Sorare NBA, an officially licensed and NFT-driven fantasy basketball game, set a new milestone on Sunday when a 1/1 NFT of Giannis Antetokounmpo sold for $187,000 worth of ETH—by far the highest sale for the relatively young platform.
The single-edition Antetokounmpo NFT was auctioned off through Sorare NBA’s own Ethereum-based platform this weekend and sold for about 113.9 ETH, or just over $187,000. It tripled the USD sale price of the previous peak sale: an Anthony Davis NFT that sold for over $62,000 (nearly 49 ETH at the time) in December, per data from CryptoSlam.
It’s also the largest-known sale of any Giannis Antetokounmpo NFT. On NBA Top Shot, Dapper Labs’ video collectibles platform on the Flow blockchain, the largest on-chain sale for the NBA championship-winning Bucks star is $95,000 in a transaction from February 2021. It’s tied for the 16th-largest on-chain Top Shot sale to date.
But when compared to physical trading card sales, even Sorare NBA’s best can’t compare to the athlete’s top mark. An autographed Giannis Antetokounmpo rookie card—with a piece of game-worn jersey embedded into the card—sold for over $1.8 million in September 2020. It briefly held the record for the most expensive basketball trading card sale.
The Sorare NBA sale is significant for a platform that only launched in October, plus comes following several months of declining sales and prices for the wider NFT market. NBA Top Shot, for example, hasn’t seen an NFT sale that high in almost two years.
However, the NFT market posted a 38% increase in January in month-over-month organic trading volume, per data from DappRadar, suggesting growing momentum for the space. The NFT market itself has only been around for a few years, and only gained mainstream interest and notoriety at the start of 2021.
By comparison, sports trading cards have been collected, traded, and sold for decades, and prices for top cards skyrocketed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The most expensive card ever sold—a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card—was auctioned for $12.6 million in August 2022. The current top basketball card sale is a Steph Curry card that sold for $5.9 million in July 2021.
Sports collectibles have been a prominent use case for NFTs, which are blockchain tokens that represent ownership in a unique item. They’re used for things like digital trading cards, artwork, profile pictures (PFPs), and video game items, and the NFT market has tallied approximately $25 billion worth of organic NFT sales over each of the last two years.
NBA Top Shot helped introduce NFTs into the mainstream in 2021, and has generated more than $1 billion to date in secondary market sales. However, the bulk of those sales took place in the early months of 2021. Top Shot’s highest single NFT sale took place in April 2021, when a LeBron James collectible sold for nearly $388,000 in an off-chain auction house transaction.
Sorare is best known for its NFT-based fantasy soccer game, but has since added Major League Baseball and NBA spinoffs.
Across all three platforms, Sorare has yielded over $545 million worth of trading volume to date, per data from CryptoSlam. The top sale on Sorare’s primary soccer platform was an NFT card for star player Erling Haaland, which sold for 265.1 ETH (almost $679,000) in January 2022.