National Basketball Association (NBA) team Cleveland Cavaliers launched a non-fungible token (NFT) collection to be featured on LED video boards at its home stadium, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The collection is part of an art program sponsored by the club’s owner and chairman, Dan Gilbert, and his wife.
For now, three NFTs have been launched in the collection. They all have been designed by independent artists and auctioned through Foundation, an NFT marketplace.
The three NFTs on display are titled Transcendence, Lemon Dunk Tree, and Brick Squad. They all are artistic videos between eight and eleven seconds of either moving basketballs or sneakers falling off a tree. More NFTs are in the works to be added to the collection and be put available for auction in Foundation.
This is not the first initiative where the Cavaliers are involved with blockchain. The club partnered with tech company RECUR earlier this month to mint its first NFT, the Cleveland Cavaliers Locker Room. Fifty NFTs were minted and gifted to corporate partners, showcasing a use of NFTs as gifts or “souvenirs”.
Last month Paris Fashion week partnered with Arianee to also gift special guests, journalists, and buyers with NFTs.
Outside of NFTs, the Cavaliers and its esports NBA 2K League team partnered with crypto blockchain provider UnitedCoin. The partnership aimed to educate Cavs fans on cryptocurrency and to promote UnitedCoin through the NBA team. UnitedCoin became the Cavaliers “Official Cryptocurrency Partner” and had its logo on the LED signage on Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse during games where the NFTs are now displayed. The partnership was announced in 2019 and branding opportunities were agreed during the 2019-2020 season.
As for the art program promoting the NFT collection, the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Public Art Program was founded in 2019 after a two-year renovation of the venue and was launched by showcasing 100 art pieces from 22 different local, national, and international artists. The program is sponsored by Cleveland Cavaliers Chairman Dan Gilbert and his wife Jennifer Gilbert, and it aims to make art appreciation accessible to all people in Cleveland.
The NFTs currently on display are showcased on a four story tall, eight million pixel Canyon LED and can be seen by people outside of the venue in downtown Cleveland.
“The genesis of the Collection is born from a desire to use our platform to authentically engage with the global, contemporary art community and its diverse fanbase. We want to empower the independent artists who drive this community forward and amplify their work in both a physical way at the FieldHouse and virtually to our worldwide audience,” said Nic Barlage, Rock Entertainment Group President and COO. “We’re excited and proud to add NFTs to the over 100 physical works that make up the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Public Art Program.”
Meanwhile, the NBA is very active in the NFT and blockchain space. The league has a partnership with Dapper Labs for Top Shot, which licenses highlights of games as NFTs and Dapper may be in talks to raise funds at a $7.5 billion valuation. The NBA also set up a blockchain advisory board to explore different implementations of the technology, which includes billionaire Mark Cuban as a member. Last year, NBA team Sacramento Kings used blockchain to track auctioned in-game sports gear.