The Chicago Bulls are dipping their toe into the NFT game.
On Wednesday, July 26, the organization will begin a six-day rollout of its first NFT collection, titled “The Bulls Legacy Collection.” The collection features a total of 567 “non-fungible tokens” — in other words, digital art pieces — modeled after each of the franchise’s six championship rings and replete with an identifying code to ensure each token’s uniqueness.
The idea for the initiative, said Bulls senior director of digital Dan Moriarty, spawned when the NBA encouraged teams to venture into the NFT space a few months back. With it, the Bulls hope to bring the feel of sports memorabilia collecting to the digital space while engaging fans.
“When they sent the note it was something we were excited about,” Moriarty said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago that aired during the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast. “We immediately wanted to be doing something.”
So, how does it work?
Each ring-inspired design will be released daily from July 26 through July 31 (on sale at 11 a.m. CT, 8 a.m. CT if signed up for priority access) with 91 uniquely encoded versions of the 1991 design becoming available for purchase on July 26, 92 versions of the 1992 design becoming available on July 27, and so on.
Within each of those drops are tiers assigned at random: Legendary (six per ring design), iconic (23 per ring design) and rare (the rest). Collecting multiple of each tier can lead to prizes; for example, collecting a legendary-tier token from all six championship years can win a “Bull for a Day” experience, which includes courtside seats to a game and shooting hoops at the United or Advocate Center.
Moriarty is also quick to note an emphasis on accessibility, which is why each NFT will sell for a flat rate on a first-come-first-serve basis instead of auction. On Day 1 — July 26 — that rate is $49, but prices for ensuing drops have yet to be fixed. Once purchased, the tokens will transfer to a personal “crypto wallet” set up by the team. And, while not yet available, the Bulls are also working to develop a platform where fans can buy and resell tokens in a secondary marketplace in the coming weeks.
“From the very beginning when we started talking about the chance of doing an NFT project this season, we really wanted to do something that was fan-centric,” Moriarty said. “What we’ve designed isn’t necessarily for people that are already deep into the crypto world or NFT world.”
And these are not static images. Each NFT features a 25-30 second video reel custom-fitted to each year’s NBA Finals matchup.
The 1991 edition, for example, features the championship ring floating above a red carpet as a nod to the Los Angeles Lakers, who the Bulls defeated in that year’s Finals. Later in the clip, a game-clock reading “7.9” flashes across the screen, commemorating the time left in the fourth quarter when the Detroit Pistons infamously walked off the floor without shaking the Bulls’ hands at the end of Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals. Easter eggs abound in ensuing designs, which all conclude with statistics from that year’s playoff run emblazoned across the screen.
Ultimately, the organization hopes to engage its fan base while stepping outside the box creatively with the initiative. Moriarty, who has worked in the organization for five years, said it was a new but exciting experience.
“The fun thing about working in digital and in the NBA is the NBA gives teams permission to kind of go and experiment and innovate,” he said. “I’ll say this has probably been one of the more interesting opportunities that has come across our plate just in the sense that it really lets you do something that’s on-brand, that we know our fans are gonna love, that’s kind of technology-centric but forward-looking.”
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