Crypto Corner: The Sports Slice

By Taylor Scott

Teams, leagues, and athletes across nearly every sports vertical you could think of are finding new partners with crypto firms. Each week, we bring a surface-level look at all things crypto and sports over the past seven days.

Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant is forming a new investment vehicle. The UFC wants more, and is furthering their crypto relationships. And FTX is making more moves, continuing their role of finding a standard appearance in the Slice. Let’s jump into the past week’s action:

The Sports Slice

NFTs And NBA Continue In Full Swing

NBA teams haven’t been reluctant to get involved in NFTs; in fact, team-specific NFT launches have become a once-a-month feature it seems in our Sports Slice reports.

This week, it’s the Philadelphia 76ers who are the latest to have launched a team-specific NFT drop, in partnership with recent jersey sponsor Crypto.com. The team will host 13 drops celebrating the historic Spectrum arena that was long-time host for the franchise’s home court.

This year, powerhouse NBA teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and more have been host to their own initiatives in NFTs. More crypto exchanges and projects have been securing substantial visibility in the sport as well, as StormX is a jersey partner (along with the aforementioned Crypto.com) within the league.

UFC Continues With Crypto Exposure

If you’re a UFC fan, you’ve likely noticed the uptick in crypto engagement in the sport – particularly given Crypto.com’s exposure as an official sponsor of the league.

The UFC is now expanding that relationship with Crypto.com to include an exclusive line of UFC NFTs. According to reports, UFC athletes are slated to receive 50% of NFT sales revenue.

FTX Isn’t Done With Sports Engagement

In last week’s Slice, we covered FTX’s latest engagement in the sports world, as the growing exchange looked to lock in a Super Bowl advertisement. This week, FTX is dipping in on some of the latest NIL (name, image, and likeness) action. The exchange has signed a team-deal with the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team. Players, however, will be paid individually, and will be key aspects of a major ad campaign for the crypto platform.

Related Reading | How Solana Came Up In Crypto

Crypto.com's native platform token, $CRO, has been a hot topic recently. The crypto platform has been particularly aggressive in sports partnerships this year, and is now furthering it's relationship with the UFC. | Source: CRO-USD on TradingView.com

Could A Crypto Company Land With Kevin Durant’s Latest Investment Vehicle?

Kevin Durant is launching a SPAC – or special purpose acquisition company. SPACs had a season of ups and downs, particularly late last year going into early this year. The excitement has subsided and fewer high-quality companies have gone the SPAC route in going public.

However, Kevin Durant and business partner Rich Kleiman, founders of Thirty Five Ventures, have formed an established reputation for having their hands in some successful firms, including Robinhood and Coinbase. One of the target categories for Kleiman and Durant’s upcoming SPAC? “Crypto and digital assets.”

Kevin Durant & Rich Kleiman are launching a $200 million SPAC, looking to acquire a company in sports, health, e-commerce, food, or crypto.

Their portfolio is insane:
• Coinbase
• Robinhood
• Dutchie
• Postmates
• WHOOP
• Acorns

They are building an incredible business. pic.twitter.com/jf7YsHQcMA

— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) November 3, 2021

Aaron Rodgers The Latest Crypto Ambassador In Sports

It was quite a week for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Seen as arguably one of the best pass-throwers in the game today, Rodgers started the week last week by announcing a partnership with Cash App to take a portion of his salary in Bitcoin. Rodgers joins a growing number of NFL athletes to do so. The partnership also saw over $1M dollars worth of crypto giveaways for Cash App users.

The news was clouded within days by Rodgers Covid-protocol implications, as the quarterback was sidelined for this weekend’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, with uproar surrounding his vaccination status.

Dapper Labs At The Forefront Of “The Metaverse For Cricket”

Cricket is a sport rarely given exposure in the U.S., but one that has a massive global presence. Dapper Labs has been building it’s global sport IP partners, starting with the NBA and WNBA, as well as NFL and LaLiga.

Dapper Labs invested in part of a $17.4M seed round behind Faze Technologies, a company looking to build “the metaverse for cricket” on Dapper’s Flow blockchain. Led by Tiger Global, the seed round will look to put Faze in a neck-and-neck battle with Polygon-based Rario, a cricket-first NFT platform that launched just a few months ago.

Dapper Labs is also onboarding Japanese media firm mixi, Inc. onto Flow, according to a recent press release. Dapper is showing clear initiative on building global relationships.

Related Reading | Brazilian Lawmaker Proposes Integration of Crypto Payment Option For Workers

Featured image from Pexels, Charts from TradingView.com