The Loop

Mad Money

In an age of unrivaled financial absurdity, buying a LeBron James highlight for $208K is just another day at the office

February 23, 2021

Meg Oliphant

Humans of the world, what you have long suspected has finally been confirmed: The economy is made up. It’s nothing more than a board game being played by people who use you as the pieces. Two weeks ago, every one of your idiot friends was conned into buying stock in a dying brick-and-mortar video game shop and sticky-floored theater chain via an app owned by a hedge fund in order to stick it to the hedge funds. They lost. For years, bitcoin, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies have been touted as the future. On Tuesday, they plummeted double-digit percentiles. Meanwhile, the federal deficit steams toward $28 trillion, and nobody in Washington seems particularly concerned because they know what you don’t: All of this about as real as Bigfoot’s Tooth Fairy.

Enter the NBA, who have entered the investment game in a big way in recent weeks with Top Shot, a digital marketplace where fans can buy and sell NBA moments, making judgements on highlights they think will appreciate and depreciate over time. Each highlight is protected by blockchain technology (the same encrypted safety mechanism used by bitcoin), limited in quantity, and provides owners with exclusive (or at least semi-exclusive) licensing to that highlight within the Top Shot sphere.

So far, Top Shot transactions have averaged in the hundreds or low thousands of dollars based on no real valuation other than that of its own investors, but all that changed on Monday when an honest-to-goodness investment group led by Bleacher Report’s Adam Lefkoe purchased the rights to a 2019 LeBron James dunk over the Sacramento Kings’ Nemanja Bjelica for a whopping $208,000 actual U.S. Dollars. In the words of the almighty Ron Burgundy, that escalated quickly.

What makes a regular season dunk over a random Kings center so valuable? We have no idea. Will the shine wear off this Top Shot thing as soon the GME memories fade and everyone’s second cousin stops thinking they’re Gordon Gekko? Quite possibly! But no matter how little sense it makes to you or how short lived the flurry, an investment like this has the chance to legitimize the entire Top Shot network . . . or kill it before it even gets going. Either way, Adam Silver will be laughing all the way to Atlanta.