A few months ago the Sixers revealed they were going with Crypto.com for their new jersey patch, which would be packaged with a NFT (non-fungible token) release in the near future.

Well the “near future” is today, November 3rd, because the Sixers dropped their first collection of NFTs, explained here in a press release:

PHILADELPHIA – NOV. 3, 2021 – The Philadelphia 76ers announced today the launch of the team’s first-ever Legacy NFT Collection, in partnership with Official Jersey Patch Sponsor Crypto.com. The first of 13 drops within the collection was released this morning on Crypto.com. Each custom-designed collectible coincides with a significant moment in Spectrum-era franchise history and falls on “Spirit of 76” night when the team will wear its City Edition uniform. 

Today’s drop celebrates the first game at the Spectrum, which was played on Oct. 18, 1967. After moving from the Philadelphia Civic Center, the defending-champion 76ers played their first game at the Philadelphia Spectrum in front of 9,000-plus fans. The 76ers defeated the L.A. Lakers, 103-87. Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Billy Cunningham led the way for the home team. Cunningham scored a team-high 20 points, while Chamberlain posted 11 points with a game-high 30 rebounds and nine assists. 

Each drop showcases one of 13 officially-licensed and authenticated commemorative tickets and was designed and animated by renowned Brazilian artist Black Madre. The Legacy NFT Collection breaks down into three tiers, all considered very rare: OriginalBanner and Signature. All drops will include one Original series, as well as 49 mystery packs, for a total of 50 collectibles per drop. Generated at random, these packs will each include one piece of collectible art, either Banner series or Signature series— which can be virtually unwrapped and kept or traded on the Crypto.com/NFT marketplace. 

The Original series is a one-of-one auction item, which will be available for 48 hours following each drop. The winning bidders will receive unprecedented fan access, including 76ers memorabilia and experiences. Original series collectors will enjoy an ultimate fan experience for two at the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex in Camden. This consists of lunch prepared by the team chef, a special meet and greet and the exclusive opportunity to watch 76ers practice. Additionally, purchasers receive a gift package, including an original piece of the Philadelphia Spectrum court and a game-worn jersey. 

Of the 49 additional pieces, three Bannerseries collectibles and 46 Signatureseries will be available. Purchasers will know if they’ve received a Banner or Signature series NFT upon virtually “opening” the product, as each will be marked with a sticker denoting its scarcity level. The number three signifies the number of championships the team has won, while 46 is representative of 1946, the year the franchise was founded as the Syracuse Nationals.  

Fans are encouraged to collect all 13 Banner series or Signature series NFTs and will have access to more exclusive 76ers-themed benefits if they are successful. Should a collector possess all 13 Banner series NFTs by May 1, 2022, they will unlock the right to redeem an original piece of the Philadelphia Spectrum court, custom jersey, personalized message from a 76ers Legend, and VIP access to a 76ers event. If a purchaser collects all 13 Signature series NFTs by May 1, 2022 they will unlock the right to redeem an original piece of the Philadelphia Spectrum court and a custom jersey. 

A portion of the proceeds generated from Legacy NFT Collection sales will benefit the Sixers Youth Foundation. 

If you’re not familiar with NFT, they are basically “tokens” that represent unique ownership of a digital asset. Back in the day you used to collect trading cards, right? In the sports world, NFT is kind of like the spiritual successor to that, where you have a highlight or an image or something else that’s guaranteed to be unique because of “blockchain” technology, which creates a permanent and transparent ledger system for compiling data and tracking digital use. You can buy and sell these tokens online and go through the same kind of transactions you would with a physical item.

In this case, the first Sixers “Original Series” NFT is currently holding a bid of more than $2,500. It’s an animated ticket representing the first game at the Spectrum:

NFT can be scammy because these items don’t hold real world value, but what the Sixers are doing here that should be commended is tying these drops to tangible experiences. As noted in the press release, the winning Original Series bidders get “unprecedented fan access, including 76ers memorabilia and experiences.” That includes the Training Complex visit and ability to watch a practice. And further incentives for collecting include the chance to “unlock the right to redeem an original piece of the Philadelphia Spectrum court, custom jersey, personalized message from a 76ers Legend, and VIP access to a 76ers event.”

Beyond that, it’s noted that a portion of proceeds are going to the Sixers Youth Foundation, and you see there on the image I shared that a “10% royalty goes to the creator for future resale.” So every time this NFT changes hands, there’s a kicker attached.

NFTs have been criticized by some people for playing out like Ponzi schemes, i.e. they gained popularity because of pandemic-induced FOMO. It was the hot new thing, and the kids and tech types wanted that sweet new digital item. They wanted to play in this new, decentralized playground where they could set the terms, free of the banks and old wealth. The people who get in early make money selling to people who get in a little bit later, and as you add more people, the pot of artificial value continues to grow. But at some point the bubble might burst, and some poor sucker will be sitting there with a digital token of a leopard smoking a cigar, and there’s no more market. There’s nobody to sell to and the leopard is useless. At least you can look at your pogs or Pokemon cards.

Whether or not the bubble does burst remains to be seen, and some tech types insist that this new crypto and digital world is the future. We’ll find out eventually.

But in this case, the Sixers are doing it the right way. NFTs that you can buy and sell, but there’s a real-world tie in with a charity angle as well.