Dozens of years ago, before the availability of personal computers and the internet, it was common for sports fans to collect trading cards.
Based on the demographics of people who usually read newspapers, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you probably had some yourself or know someone who did. I’m certain I have some in a box somewhere.
It was especially popular with young people and it made perfect sense. It wasn’t possible to go look up pictures, action shots or highlight videos of your favorite players. Finding their career stats meant pulling out their baseball card or the sports almanac. Plus, each pack came with a free slice of gum.
Trading cards allowed you to collect your favorite players and as the name implies, trade cards with your friends to grow your collection. Some cards went on to become quite valuable for reasons varying from player popularity to famous murderers being pictured in the front row of the crowd in the background.
Now with the availability of pictures, highlights and statistics on demand wherever you are, it doesn’t make sense for there to be much of a market for trading cards. That did not stop someone from tapping in to peoples desire to show off and find a way to profit off it.
That’s what leads me to the subject of today’s column, a company called NBA Top Shot. I heard about them when I read that a group, led by someone referred to by his Twitter handle, paid $208,000 for a LeBron James “moment.”
I’ve done some research and as far as I can tell, I’m either too old to get it or some folks are dumber than I thought. This guy, whose real name is Jesse, paid over $200,000 to purchase a packaged highlight of LeBron dunking in a game against Sacramento.
He doesn’t own the video; you can watch it online right now for free. In fact you should, if for no other reason than to see what a $208,000 highlight looks like. It was a game from Nov. 15, 2019.
Not only does he not own that video that he spent $208,000 for, he doesn’t even own the only copy of that packaged highlight available by NBA Top Shot. It is a “Legendary Tier” memory and was number 29 of 49. They have other memories that are the Platinum Ice Tier (1 of 3) or the Genesis Tier (1 of 1) and I can’t imagine what those might be worth.
I recognize that I am not their target audience because I am too old and I obviously don’t make enough money, but I can’t help but feel the people paying for this might be foolish – but I get why the people are selling it.
They want to make money and some folks clearly have more money than sense.
David Friedman is a longtime sports writer and lifelong believer that Black Lives Matter. David can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.