Categories
NFT Sports

NFTs and Injuries, Lamelo Ball Wins Rookie of the Year

They say “Pikachu can’t tear his ACL.” It is what separates non-sports assets and sports assets. When investing in the sports NFT world, you are banking on a player’s health. 

You look at the last week in the NBA and the playoffs have been decimated by injuries to some of the league’s biggest stars. 

Predicting injuries is impossible. But factoring in this concept of, “what if this player tore their ACL? How would it impact their career?” can be incredibly important in deciding where you want to invest your money in the NFT landscape.

With the Kawhi Leonard news, it’s incredibly disappointing, but most likely, it won’t impact his career arc. Can this be said for some of the younger players who have yet to establish that tenure in the league. 

Even the rookie of the year, Lamelo Ball was dinged up for a small portion of the season. It almost cost him the rookie of the year. 

Speaking of Lamelo, the youngest Ball brother dropped an NFT collection a few weeks ago. And with him winning the prized accolade, it will be included in his NFT series.

Investing in players’ whose careers are already somewhat established can keep you safe from the always possible threat of injuries. 

And if you want to completely avoid the threat of injuries, you can always look to non-sports related NFTs. 

Whether it be a meme, digital art, and digital horses. 

There are risks in other NFTs. An artist can be canceled for things they say. Artist’s careers are not guaranteed either. Decentraland could become the preferred landscape of the metaverse over Sandbox. All of these could impact the value of a non-sports NFT.

I’m not saying that there is necessarily a better NFT group to be invested in. I just want people to understand the importance of weighing all of these different factors that go into it. 

Categories
Culture Trading Cards

Analyzing The Latest Panini Prizm Gold NBA Sales

When it comes to identifying and recognizing the key rookie cards of a modern NBA player, Prizm Gold is almost always in the conversation. Prizm Gold variations are numbered to just 10 copies in a set, and while there are a few other variations with shorter print, they are very rare, popular, and command significant price tags for the top rookies of a class. 

In this analysis, we’ll look at Prizm Gold sales of top NBA players over the past few months. Many of these sales occurred on the Goldin Auctions platform, which caters to a higher-end audience that is seeking these types of rare cards. 

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Getty Images

The Giannis Antetokounmpo Gold Prizm PSA 10 sold on Goldin Auctions on May 23rd for $420,000: 

CardLadder

Giannis most notably won back-to-back MVP awards, but he does not have a championship ring. He is, however, the 27th ranked all-time NBA player according to ESPN

His Gold rookie parallel sold for 15.85x of the most comparable Prizm Silver PSA sale:

CardLadder

There are just 2 copies of the Prizm Gold while there are 75 copies of the Prizm Silver card. 

The Prizm Silver is about 37 times less rare in pure population comparison, which provides some context for the significant price difference in two key rookie cards of a rising star. 

However, Giannis’ gold prizm, despite being in a PSA 10 copy, sold for $90,000 less than a BGS 9.5 copy via Goldin Auctions in early April: 

CardLadder

This represents a 17% drop, and it’s even more significant considering that a PSA 10 typically commands a premium over BGS 9.5s. 

The Prizm Silver PSA 10 sold for $30,700 on April 21st. The Prizm Silver PSA 10 dropped 13.7% between the April and May sale listed above. The card has further declined in price, with a June sale of $18,100. In just two months, that’s 41% of value lost. 

However, in April of last year, the Prizm Silver sold for around $17,300 in April of 2020 consistently, so year over year, the card is up 4.6%.

And in October of 2019, the Giannis Gold Prizm BGS 9.5 sold for $33,800, which is significantly less than what it would trade for in today’s market. 

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Getty Images

On May 23rd Joel Embiid’s Gold Prizm PSA 10 sold on Goldin Auctions for $50,400, or about 8x less than Giannis’ Gold Prizm. 

Embiid finished 2nd in MVP voting for the 2020-21 season. 

His Silver Prizm PSA 10 is currently valued at $3,000: 

CardLadder

The Prizm Silver PSA is valued at 16.8x less than its Prizm Gold counterpart. This multiplier is within the same ballpark as Giannis, which helps us start to understand the price relationship between Prizm Silver and Prizm Gold. 

Embiid’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 has 66 copies, whereas his Gold PSA 10 has 3 copies. Embiid’s Prizm Gold is 22x more rare than the Silver. 

3. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

On March 7th 2021, during a growth period for the hobby, Anthony Davis’ Prizm Gold PSA 9 sold for $181,200. There are no PSA 10 copies of this card and just 2 copies in PSA 9. 

Davis was ranked the 45th best NBA player of all-time according to ESPN

CardLadder

In March, Anthony Davis’ Silver Prizm PSA 10 sold for $24,000, which means the Gold variation was sold at a multiplier of 7.55x. While this is about half the multiplier as Embiid and Antetokounmpo, it’s likely due to the fact that there are no PSA 10 copies of this card. 

Davis’ Silver Prizm PSA 10 last sold for $8,600, a 64% decrease in value, so it’s likely a sale of the Gold Prizm today would sell for significantly less.

4. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Getty Images

On March 6th, Damian Lillard’s 2012 Prizm Gold in BGS Pristine 10 sold for $87,330, and on May 23rd Lillard’s 2012 Prizm Gold BGS 9.5 sold for $74,400. 

Lillard’s currently ranked the 72nd best player of all-time according to ESPN

CardLadder

Lillard’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 sold for $5,762 on May 24th, the day after his Gold Prizm BGS 9.5 sold. The Gold Prizm sold for 13.23x of the Prizm Silver PSA 10. 

CardLadder

The BGS 10 copy of the card sold for $87,330 in March, a 14.5% premium from its BGS 9.5 counterpart, which is expected as it’s in a higher grade. 

There are a total of 12 copies of the Gold Prizm in PSA 10, BGS 9.5, BGS 10, which is 2.2x more rare than the Prizm Silver PSA 10 with 32 copies. 

Lillard’s Prizm Gold BGS 9.5 sold for as low as $1,150 in February of 2017. 

5. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Getty Images

On January 31st, the 2018 Luka Doncic Prizm Gold PSA 10 sold for $780,000 on Goldin Auctions and on April 7th, it sold for $645,750. 

Doncic was ranked the #1 NBA Player under the age of 25 by ESPN two years in a row. 

CardLadder

The pop 3 Gold Prizm PSA 10 has lost 17.2% of it’s value since the January sale. 

On January 31st 2021, Doncic’s Prizm Silver sold for $8,120.71. In this case, the Prizm Gold sold for 96x of the Prizm Silver counterpart, likely due to a higher population of silver Prizms. 

The Prizm Gold PSA 10 is 685 times more rare than the Prizm Silver PSA 10. 

On April 8th, the Prizm Silver PSA 10 sold for $7,700, a 5% decrease from the January 31st sale. 

The Prizm Gold lost 12.2% more value in that time period, but as of June 13th, Doncic’s Silver Prizm is valued at $4,742.50, a 38% loss in value. 

In the last month alone, there have been 20 new copies of the Prizm Silver graded in a PSA 10 copy. 

In July of 2019, the BGS 9.5 Prizm Gold Luka Doncic sold for just $8,500 in a private sale while the current predicted value is $111,920, 1,216% growth in 2 years. 

6. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Getty Images

On March 7th, the Trae Young Prizm Gold PSA 10 sold for $111,930 at Goldin Auctions. 

Young finished 6th in All-Star voting for Eastern Conference Guards. 

CardLadder

Young’s Prizm Silver PSA 10 sold for $1,650 on March 8th. Like Doncic’s Gold Prizm, Young’s Gold sold for 67.8x of the Prizm Silver in a similar time frame. 

The Prizm Silver PSA 10 has a population of 2,061 with 36 new PSA 10 copies issued in the past month. The Gold Prizm is 515 times more rare than the Silver, which is less rare than Doncic’s Prizm Gold and may clue us into why the Gold didn’t sell at a similar multiplier. 

Young’s Silver Prizm PSA 10 has increased in value since the sale in March to $1,673, 1.39% growth. 

7. Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

On April 6th, the 2012 Prizm Gold Lebron James BGS 9.5 sold for $571,200 on Goldin Auctions. 

Lebron James was ranked #2 on ESPN’s All-Time Basketball rankings

While this isn’t a rookie card, 2012 Prizm was the first year the product was introduced for NBA players and carries some historical significance in the hobby. 

CardLadder

On April 7th, Lebron James’ 2003 Topps Chrome Refractor (Rookie) sold for $147,600. 

That means that the non-rookie, non-PSA 10, Gold Refractor sold for 3.86x the value of a PSA 10 rookie refractor in the same time period. 

The 2003 Topps Chrome Rookie refractor has lost 36% of its value since the March sale, with it’s latest value at $94,470. 

At the current predicted value of the 2012 Prizm Gold BGS 9.5, the card is still worth 1.8x of it’s Topps Chrome rookie refractor counterpart. 

The 2012 Gold Prizm BGS 9.5 is 19x more rare than the Topps Chrome rookie Refractor PSA 10.

Categories
Sports Strength

Trae Young is the NBA’s Perfect Villain

When the playoffs began last month, a Narrative-with-a-capital-N began to form around Trae Young. The Sparknotes version: he’s a flopper; a showboat; an obnoxious supervillain with bad hair who looks like, uh, some guy’s dad’s dick. All this hostility, naturally, comes from a place of genuine admiration. By eliminating the upstart New York Knicks and stealing home-court advantage from the Philadelphia 76ers, Young authored his own legend in real-time. By being equal parts unstoppable and unapologetic, he’s made his own myth and placed himself within a proud lineage of NBA antagonists. 

In a postseason now absent of Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, Young has staked his claim as the NBA’s most dangerous—and maybe most confounding—point guard. Through seven games, Young averaged nearly 29 points and 10 assists per game. Besides his genius passing, there’s no obvious reason why Young is so dominant beyond the fact that defenses are simply unable to guard him. He’s quick, but neither tall nor especially fast; a good shooter, but hardly an elite one; a slippery dribbler, but not a magical one. Instead, he befuddles defenses because he has internalized the rules and rhythms of the game, ever-aware of the exact rotations that his movement will provoke and how to abuse them. 

As the ball-handler in a pick-and-roll, Young is like a student who has stolen the answer key to a test. Send help from the weak-side and he’ll whizz the ball to a now-open shooter; step up to stop his penetration and he’ll toss a lob over your head to the rolling big man. Do your damnedest not to allow a corner-three or an alley-oop and he’ll amble into an uncontested floater. For opposing teams, the road to getting vivisected by Young is paved with good intentions.

Moreover, Young’s unlikability is intrinsic to what makes him so good. To watch Young is to be frustrated and confused. Against Young, other teams look inexplicably lousy. Hectoring defenders seem cowed because otherwise Young will bait them into fouls. Smart coaches suddenly look dumb because Young turns sensible defensive choices into death sentences. Since Young is slight enough such that he ostensibly looks like one of the few NBA players you could maybe take in a fight (spoiler: you can’t), his success presents itself as the result of his opponent’s failure. 

And then there’s the matter of his comportment. Beyond his playing style, Young revealed himself as a glorious jerk during the first round of the playoffs. Not content to punk just the Knicks, he made sure to punk their fans too. After hitting the game-winner in Game One, he shushed Madison Square Garden. While the Knicks faithful gave their team an appreciative standing ovation at the end of Game Five, Young drained a step-back 30-footer and bowed at half-court, which, remarkably, wasn’t even Young’s first time bowing to a frothing crowd. Listen closely whenever Young has the ball at a road game and you can hear 20,000 fans angrily muttering why I oughta to themselves. 

The beauty of the NBA playoffs is that they force players to become even more like themselves. The regular season steadily builds a bricolage of big stat totals across good and bad performances; the postseason wipes it away, leaving only glue and paper scars, and revealing the raw-nerved vibes of the participants. Here is where Paul George’s moodiness gives birth to the regrettably named Playoff P or where Donovan Mitchell’s ballsy shot-making transforms him into a superstar and not merely a self-aware Dion Waiters. Accordingly, Young’s heel-turn is more of a continuation than a revelation—he’s always been this way, even if not enough people watched the Atlanta Hawks to notice it. Young becoming the personal enemy of Knicks and Sixers fans is not just him effortlessly slipping into a well-cast role. It’s destiny.

Just as Zoom now feels like it’s always been part of daily life, reflexively disliking Young feels like something coded deep within the DNA of basketball fandom. There’s a certain joy in watching everyone follow the same invisible script. Fans hate him because of course they do; he trolls and goads them and torches their favorite team—but how could he not? After a bewildering year that felt unmoored from the four billion that preceded it, the collective experience of hating Trae Young is a return to the normal tempo of life. Pictures of birds dot the stands and arenas boom with boos and chant about Young’s losing battle against male-pattern baldness. Nature is healing. 

Categories
Sports Strength

Devin Booker Arrived a Long Time Ago

We are officially entering a new era in the NBA. The young kids are here and they are fearless; you can see it in their play. Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young, Michael Porter Jr., Zach LaVine, Devin Booker. They’re here and they’re about to take over the league. Devin Booker dropped a season-high 47 points as the Suns eliminated the defending champion Lakers with a 113-100 win in Game 6 last Thursday, handing LeBron James his first defeat in a first round series in 15 tries. 

Booker’s performance impressed LeBron James, who signed a jersey and left this message for him.  

LeBron tweeted in February that Booker is the most disrespected player in the NBA. It’s hard to disagree.

Devin Booker had this to say after the game: “I was thinking about Kobe and the conversations that we had. Kind of about what we just went through, the postseason and being legendary and taking the steps to get there. So seeing that 8 and that 24 up there, with the way that the lighting at STAPLES has right here, it feels like it’s shining down on you. And I know he was here tonight. I know he was here tonight. I know he’s in the building. I know he was proud.” 

Months after Kobe Bryant’s untimely death, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Jump that Booker and Bryant “were very, very close.” Devin Booker told Bleacher Report in August that Kobe Bryant serves as his inspiration: “Kobe’s with me every day. You guys see what I put on my shoes with the ‘Be Legendary.’ It’s a reminder,” he said. Booker faced off with Kobe Bryant only once, when the Suns beat the Lakers on March 23rd, 2016. After the game, Kobe reached out to then rookie and gave him his autographed shoes. 

Kobe said about Booker: “He went straight to my move, first time, he called yeah not gonna beat me on my move man like you know but I mean it was great to see, it was obviously great to see him because I remember I did the same thing with MJ. He’s fantastic, he has the right attitude, he has a right competitive spirit, I think his footwork is extremely sound, his fundamentals are extremely sound and now it’s just about him figuring out exactly what his game is, then he can go to that every single night and then make counters off of it, but he has the skills, the skills are there.”  

Devin Booker Was Different Since Day One

This game is about a bucket and over the last few years, it’s hard to name 10 guys who have done it like Devin Booker. He has so many ways to get a shot off. He’s been different since day one and I already have him as a top 10 talent in the league. His style is advanced, polished, smooth, calm; he has a supreme skillset and he’s a legit three-level scorer. 

Booker can dominate you and take a game over from beyond the arc, in the mid-range and his finishing ability is different. Just look at the way he finishes above defenders around the rim. His awareness is elite and he has Kobe Bryant-type skill and movement at times. You can tell that he learned a lot from him. I like his footwork, the way he operates on the low block back to the basket, he’s got floaters, he’s got runners, euros and so many acrobatic moves around the rim, reverse lay-ins from both sides of the floor, right hand, left hand, he can create with range, he can pull up from deep and in transition, play at multiple paces.  

Devin Booker just has a great feel for taking a game over. Whether the Suns win or lose, if you look at his moments and performances, there are so many instances of him just taking over. He’s been different for a while, you can see all this from the moment he came in. He’s so clutch, he has so many ways to beat you and he plays with a chip on his shoulder while he making it look easy. I can see him in the All-NBA conversations and MVP races one day; these awards and achievements are all situational, they depend on where your team is and he hasn’t had a favorable situation until now. 

Categories
NFT Sports

NFTs Are NOT Dead, According to Jack Settleman

I Promise… NFT’s Are Not Dead

I’m not sure people understand how early on we are in this NFT movement. 

The total Top Shot market cap is at 605 million dollars. 

At one point, it was over a billion dollars, so naturally, people are showing concern.

Did I mention that we are early?

Clearly, the public perception is that NFT’s are dead. But I am here to tell you they are not. We are seeing a pullback. We are seeing similar reactions to the dot.com era, where 99 percent of websites failed. But the one percent that survived (Amazon, Google) became monsters. 

Quick reminder, we are early. 

What is important is that NFT’s, celebrity cash grabs are gone… which we’ve been saying. But the tech of NFT’s is going to be the thing of the next decade. As of now, all people know are the youtube clips they are watching. But we are still so early, people don’t understand what this wave can be.

The general idea from Top Shot fans is that it re-engaged them with the NBA. Who captures your attention? That is what matters. The MLB does a terrible job with it. The UFC is making a Dapper Labs product… and is asking you to pay for the viewing experience and give them your time. With the NFL, they own Sunday and Monday… but even our generation watches RedZone. Once again, the tech and utility of NFT’s are an attention and engagement capture. 

Over the next decade, the competition will be over people’s time and attention. 

To finalize things, we are super early in this. It could be five years before we see the fruits of NFT technology.

Categories
Sports Strength

What Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Missing In His Game

Selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Giannis Antetokounmpo has improved faster than expected. However, his game has to evolve even more for the Bucks to win the East and fight for the NBA Championship. A two-time NBA MVP, Antetokounmpo went to his first All-Star game in 2016-17 and he was named the captain of his team in his third All-Star appearance. No one questions his talent and most aspects of his game are either pretty good or elite, but he has no half-court game and the league knows now. This became more evident in the bubble last year.


Giannis is one of my favorite players in the NBA right now, which is why I’m so tough on him. To me, there are probably 20-30 players in the league with more skill, and some of them haven’t even been NBA All-Stars. While ‘The Greek Freak’ deserved his MVP awards, they hurt his growth; he still hasn’t developed a half-court game. Giannis Antetokounmpo should study Kevin Garnett and reinvent his whole game in order to take the Bucks to the next level. Giannis has to be comfortable in the post and make it his backbone. All of this will obviously take time, but to me this is the direction he has to go in order to take the Bucks to the next level.


‘The Greek Freak’ is not a perimeter player, and again, he needs to become the modern-day Kevin Garnett! If Giannis develops a real post game, plays at a new pace, adjusts his shooting form/touch as a power forward, becomes a monster on the block, develops hooks, push shots, banks and occasionally steps outside and runs it, then there’s no limit for what he can accomplish individually and with the Bucks. If Antetokounmpo masters these elements of his game, it’ll do him and the Bucks wonders this year and in the future. This needs to be almost automatic for Giannis. It would open up a whole new dimension for his team.

Categories
Sports Strength

Unpacking the Knicks-Nets Rivalry: More Than Just Basketball

Like Taylor Swift or 28 people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the NBA is defined by bad blood. In the 1960s, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain wrestled for supremacy and introduced the NBA to the American mainstream. Two decades later, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird rescued the league from tape-delayed oblivion with their epic, decade-long duel. If The Last Dance proved anything beyond the merits of taking things personally, it was that Michael Jordan neither produced nor possessed any shortage of enmity. 

More than nearly any team, the New York Knicks have had a rich history of hatred. Throughout their existence, the Knicks have steadily added to their Rolodex of enemies: the Baltimore Bullets in the 1960s and 70s; the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls in the 90s; their own fans in the 2000s and 2010s. But before this year, despite sharing a division and a metropolitan area for 44 years, the Knicks and the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets were more associates than adversaries. Time was, the Knicks and Nets were parallel playmates failing to sync up their sporadic successes. Today, with New York City hosting playoff games across two boroughs for only the second time ever, they offer a roadmap for how rivalries are forged and fed in 2021. 

To be sure, this is hardly a traditional rivalry. “Until they meet in the playoffs,” says Casey Powell (a.k.a. CP the Fanchise), the founder of the popular YouTube channel KnicksFanTV, “I don’t know how serious the hatred can be.” Still, it’s one that feels uniquely modern. While the NBA’s erstwhile rivalries evidenced how familiarity breeds contempt, the increase of player movement across the league has prevented teams and players from gaining repeat exposure to each other over the years. Gone are the days of centers performing stunners on guards and coaches clinging to a player’s leg like moss on a rock; now, cold wars are played out on Twitter and prestige magazine covers. In 2021, rivalries have found a new catalyst and medium: trolling. 

“On both sides, I think there’s a lot of mutual respect,” says Matt Brooks, a reporter for the Nets blog NetsDaily. “The fan bases, though, have a total rivalry. Especially leading up to games, it’s really heated with fans talking smack, going back and forth with each other. The fan side of it is very much alive, even if that hatred and vitriol isn’t necessarily there between the actual players.”

Although the intensity of the Knicks-Nets rivalry has been ratcheted up because of the teams’ recent success, the games themselves are besides the point. At 41-31, the Knicks may be in the playoffs for the first time in eight years, but they’re hardly equals to the Nets, who finished seven games ahead of the Knicks in the standings and might have the greatest offense in NBA history. Instead, the results of the games are secondary to what the games represent, each contest prismatically reflecting and refracting the goals and agendas of the participants.

To Knicks fans, everything is about the Knicks except the Knicks—the Knicks themselves are about pride. Before this season, the Knicks existed within the contemporary national consciousness as both punchline and an object of anthropological interest, and for good reason: the Knicks are owned by James Dolan–an nth-rate Eric Clapton larper–and have won exactly one playoff series since 2000. For people without irrational attachments to Pablo Prigioni, the Knicks’ foibles are objectively funny. Granted, it’s not as though the Knicks had an exclusive license on being embarrassing and bad—where are the Minnesota Timberwolves jokes in Pixar movies? Why hasn’t Chuck D hosted an exhaustively reported eight-part narrative podcast about how Vivek Randive’s terrible brain has sabotaged the Sacramento Kings

“The Knicks have been bad,” says Powell, “but it’s almost like the national media goes out of their way to crap on us.”

By virtue of being one of the NBA’s legacy franchises, though, the Knicks are a centering force for sportspages, both local and national—for better or worse, in terms of Gotham basketball, all roads lead to Madison Square Garden. As such, coverage of the Nets can be read as an implicit (and sometimes explicit) barometer on the status of the Knicks. In the aftermath of signing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in 2019 and adding two all-stars whom the Knicks openly lusted over, the Nets became an unwitting symbol for everything that the Knicks were not.

“Comparisons to the Nets have been used at times as a way to shit on the Knicks,” says “Shwinnypooh”, a staff writer for Knicks’ fan-site The Strickland and the host of the website’s podcast, Pod Strickland. “Even when celebrating the Nets’ achievements, it feels like the media makes it about the Knicks. When the Nets signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the story wasn’t about what a great job the Nets did. Instead, it was framed as, ‘What’s wrong with the Knicks?’” 

Beyond offering fertile ground for Trump-adjacent allegations of a biased mainstream media, this new inter-borough rivalry is an opportunity for Knicks fans to reaffirm and validate their identity. Over the last 20 years, Knicks fandom has been a bootless endeavor, the only suspense being whether the team would be shameful or merely embarrassing. At worst, to be a Knicks fan was masochism; at best, it was masochism.

“Brooklyn is a tech hub and attracts a lot of transplants,” says Powell, “but being a Knicks fan is really a generational thing. People pass it down through their families and that passion is clear.”

During these lean times, being a Knicks fan had no rewards beyond the community and identity offered by fandom; misery loves the company of nearly every basketball fan in the city. In this sense, the implication that the Nets offer a life raft for beleaguered hoops fans felt like a rebuke of the authenticity of Knicks fandom. And with the Knicks earning a surprising playoff berth, their fans are ready with receipts.

“When the Nets moved to Brooklyn,” remembers Alex Wolfe, the editor-in-chief of The Strickland and the host of the Locked On Knicks podcast, “their official marketing slogan was ‘taking over’ and it didn’t seem worth giving attention—you’re never going to convert us. But now that the Knicks are in the playoffs and have all this energy, there’s definitely some compulsion amongst fans to jab back, like, ‘How’s that ‘takeover’ going?’” 

Whereas Knicks fans transpose a gnarled web of emotions and grievances onto the rivalry, Nets fans are still finding their roots in Brooklyn and have a simpler outlook as a result. “Nets fans aren’t like Knicks fans and vice versa,” says Chris Milholen, a reporter at Nets Daily, “but we’re all New Yorkers and there’s that attitude of wanting to chirp and let the other side know how you feel.” 

Like their Manhattan counterparts, Nets fans recognize that their fiercest on-court battles exist in Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Toronto, well beyond the five boroughs. And like Knicks fans, Brooklynites are acutely aware of their team’s place within the city’s sports ecosystem. 

“The Knicks are the bigger team,” says Milholen, “At the end of the day, there’s no plaque for that; the city doesn’t give out a trophy. It’s a moral win for the Knicks, but it’s not really a title. The Nets are chasing championships.”

To some Nets fans, this title contention is such a trump card that it essentially nullifies any potential rivalry. After all, banners aren’t hung for beating an inferior team that happens to play nearby; rings aren’t awarded for ratioing a guy with RJ Barrett as his profile picture on Twitter. “If you ask the average Nets fan,” says Milholen, “they’ll say that the main focus is on winning a ring and that the whole ‘who runs New York’ discussion can wait for later.” 

Posturing notwithstanding, this is a rivalry of insecurity stitched over status and authenticity. “Both sides pretend not to care and it’s the weirdest thing,” says Brooks. “They definitely care about each other because otherwise they wouldn’t be antagonizing each other.” Taken in tandem, these two teams function as a referendum on the nature of fandom. Should sports be a vessel for communal experience or personal satisfaction? The new Knicks/Nets rivalry is the result of contrapositive forces—one team trying to reckon with their history, the other trying to create a future. 

 “This,” says Brooks, “is the best rivalry in basketball that has nothing to do with basketball.” 

Categories
Sports Strength

The 15 Best NBA Teams of All-Time

The NBA has been around for a long time so naturally there have been a lot of great teams. I wanted to take an opportunity to dive deeper into this debate, rather than just looking at the single best team of all time. It’s also too difficult to compare teams from the pre-1970 era with contemporary teams, so we’ll focus on modern NBA teams. With those notes in mind, I’ve been doing my research and I finally put together a ranking of the 15 best NBA teams of all time. 

Methodology

Before we get into this list, I want to go over my criteria for ranking these teams. First off, I decided to make 1970 the cutoff for teams to make that list. I know that leaves off some Celtics teams, but it’s difficult to compare teams over 50 years apart. I understand that there are some that would definitely make the top 15 from the early eras of the NBA, but they wont be included here for simplicity’s sake.

Another thing that I’m not including is repeats. For instance, if I include the 95-96 Bulls, then there really isn’t a reason for me to include the 96-97 Bulls. That means only one showtime Lakers team, one 80s Celtics team and one KD-Curry Warriors team will be on here. I think this makes the list more interesting and dynamic.

To judge the strength of these teams, I’m looking at a mix of talent and what they accomplished that year. So you might see a less talented team rank above a more talented one if they beat tougher competition in the playoffs or won more games.

Last but not least, I’m adjusting for the era. Teams from the 70s would stand little chance up against modern teams, but that’s not really a fair way to judge them. So when I’m talking about a team’s “Talent,” it’s relative to the era.

1. 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors
Getty Images

I don’t think you can reasonably put any other team here as this is far and away the most talented team of all time. Having 4 all stars (KD, Steph, Dray and Klay) felt like it was something out of a 2k game. You could tell they were coasting in the regular season, and they still won 67 games. Once the playoffs rolled around they started going 100%. They matched the ’01 Lakers for the greatest postseason record in league history at 16-1.

Some people will tell you that KD didn’t really fit in with what the Warriors were trying to do, but I don’t think that mattered. When you have 2 players who both have a legit argument for best scorer in the NBA, there isn’t going to be a team that can stop that. People also forget that this team was one of the best defensive squads in the league. You could argue that another team on this list had a better season or beat better competition in the playoffs, but I’m still taking these Warriors over everyone else.

2. 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls
Getty Images

Before the number 1 team on this list came along, this Bulls team was the unanimous best team of all time. No championship team has won more regular season games than these guys. The Bulls with MJ were always a threat, but this is the year where it all came together. The big 3 of Rodman, Pippen and MJ were at their peak. On top of that, Tony Kukoc had started to come into his own as well, giving them another serious scoring threat. With this stacked roster they were able to manage both the highest rated offense and defense in the league this season. No one could seriously challenge them in the playoffs; they only lost 3 total games. It’s pretty easy to say that this is the most successful team of all time, but because I’m taking into account other factors, they come in at #2 . Still I can’t understate their dominance because you don’t win 72 games by accident.

3. ’72 Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

Part of me didn’t want to include a team from 50 years ago in my top 3, but you cant deny a 33 game winning streak. Only 6 teams have broken 20 in a row and none have gotten into the 30s. But even looking past their 69 win season and incredible win streak, this team deserves to be here. They were nothing short of loaded with Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Wilt chamberlain and Jim McMillan (they also had a 37 year old Elgin Baylor on the tail end of his career). Their playoff competition was extraordinary throughout, particularly when they had to play the Bucks (the 71’ team made this list). Considering that they beat Kareem and Oscar in 6, they deserve a world of credit for what they got done in the regular season. My criteria was accomplishments, talent, and playoff performance, three categories that this team crushes. To me, that makes them worth of a spot this high on the list.

4. ’87 Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

Showtime. You had to know that the showtime Lakers were going to show up on this list. There were plenty of great Laker teams in the 80s, but the ’87 squad stood out as the best to me. Magic Johnson arguably had his best season in ’87, winning both MVP and FMVP. With Byron Scott and James Worthy running the offense, they were able to have the number 1 rated offense that season. Now, at this point in his career, Kareem wasn’t really the dominant big that he once was, but even at 39 years old he still contributed 17 a game. I see the talent of this team as pretty crazy overall (3 all stars, the MVP, the assist leader, and 7 guys averaging double digit points a game), so even though this version of the Lakers didn’t have a prime Kareem, I don’t think it hurt them too much. What helped them majorly was beating the Celtics in 6 in the finals. That Celtics team was one of the best dynasties ever, so defeating them on the biggest stage impresses me a lot.

5. ’71 Milwaukee Bucks
Getty Images

As a student at the University of Cincinnati, I might be a little biased towards Oscar Robinson, but that doesn’t mean that this Bucks team doesn’t deserve to be up here. Kareem was only in his 2nd year in ’71, but he still managed to win MVP with ease. To understand how stacked this Bucks team was, you’ve got to understand that they had the number 1 rated defense, the scoring champion (Kareem) and 4 other players in double figures. I don’t know how you handle that and neither did anyone else because they ended up winning 66 games and swept the Bullets in the finals. They gained extra points for only losing 2 playoff games in total and they beat a really strong Lakers team in the semi finals. Because I consider Kareem a top 3 player ever, Oscar a top 20 player ever, and their season one of the more successful on this list, it’s easy for me to put this team in the top 6.

6. ’01 Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

It doesn’t feel right having Shaq and Kobe land this low on the list, alas, this is where I have them landing. The problem with picking a Shaq-KoBe team is that I don’t know whether to choose the 2000 team with MVP Shaq and 67 wins or the 2001 team that went 16-1 in the playoffs but only won 56 games in the regular season. I think you’ve got to respect the playoff run, so I picked them. Outside of Shaq and Kobe, this team had more solid role players than it gets credit for.  Derrick Fisher, Rick Fox and Horrace Grant all could play. Add on top of that legendary coach Phil Jackson and this team is more than just the Shaq-Kobe duo. The lack of regular season wins and the lack of strong competition in the playoffs forces me to put them a little lower than I want them to be.

7. ’86 Boston Celtics
Getty Images

Speaking of 80s dynasties, the Celtics make their 2nd appearance on this list at #7. This team, which featured 5 players who would go on to make the Hall of Fame, ranks the highest among any of the Larry Bird Celtics teams. Bird was obviously fantastic this year, averaging 26/10/7 and winning MVP.  Overall, these guys were a really talented group that played well together and accomplished quite a bit. They have the best home record of any team ever at 40-1, with a total of 67 wins on the season. I felt that they avoided playing anyone super tough in the playoffs, so I’m gonna knock them a little for that, but I don’t think that takes away from them too much. You know Larry Bird, you know the 80s Celtics, you know why they made this list.

8. ’83 Philadelphia 76ers
Getty Images

When you think of the NBA in the 80s, you probably think of dynasties like the Celtics or Lakers, but this 76ers team was right up there with them. In fact, they would end up sweeping the showtime Lakers when they met in the finals. Now I’m not saying that these 76ers were a dynasty as they’d only end up winning one ring, but they did have Moses Malone and Dr. J—two players with a combined 7 MVPs. Alongside their stars, they had a great supporting cast with Hall of Famer Maurice Cheeks and all-star Andrew Toney. Looking at their roster, it’s pretty surprising that they couldn’t manage more championships. In 83, though, they really put it all together with a 60-win regular season and an insane 12-1 postseason run. I feel like 8 is a little higher than most people would put them on this list, but with 2 top 25 players of all time and a great playoff run, I think it’s deserved.

9. ’89 Detroit Pistons
Getty Images

This is the team that Michael Jordan spent years struggling to get past, so you know they were legit. It seems like this team has become a little underrated, but back then they were stacked. Isaiah Thomas led a roster that had 6 players scoring at least 13 points per game, not to mention a prime Dennis Rodman. Many younger fans today might not recognize names like Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre or Adrian Dantley, but those guys weren’t called the Bad Boys for nothing. Outside of the MJ-led Chicago Bulls, no one got a playoff win against these guys, including the Magic Johnson-led Lakers. If the Bulls hadn’t gotten their act together in ’91, the Pistons could have 3-peated and gone down as one of the dynasties of the early 90s. The drawback that keeps this team a little lower on the list is the lack of star power as there was only 1 top 50 player of all time on this team.

10. ’13 Miami Heat
Getty Images

It seems like a disappointment that the big 3 Heat only won 2 titles. Regardless, the 2013 team they put together was probably the best that they got and definitely deserves a spot on this list. What made this squad so strong is that they featured arguably the best version of Lebron. This was the year that he came in 2nd for DPOY and was a single vote away from being a unanimous MVP. With him, Bosh and Wade leading the team, they were able to reach 66 wins and beat a very tough Spurs team in the finals. The couple of knocks on this team are that they didn’t have a ton of depth and that they barely escaped losing in game 6 vs. the Spurs. Wade was also out of his prime at this point, which doesn’t help their case. That being said, having one of the best players of all time in his absolute prime is sometimes all that really matters

11. ’08 Boston Celtics
Getty Images

Defense wins championships and no team proves that more than the 2008 Celtics. You know how some people have KG as a top 10 player of all time? Well I’m not saying it’s true, but what he was able to do for this Celtics team certainly helps the argument. Not only was he DPOY that season, but he also had a pretty good case for MVP and ended up coming in 3rd. Him—along with Doc Rivers and other strong defensive players—built the best defense in the league. They might not have been the most effective offensively, but with stars like Allen, Rondo and Pierce they could still get a bucket. They had a brutal playoff path where they played two series that went to 7 and two that went 6. They also had to get past Lebron and Kobe, so they definitely gain some points for that in my book. It’s disappointing that this Celtics core could only get 1 ring, but at least for this 2008 season they were something special   

12. ’91 Chicago Bulls
Getty Images

Winning 3 championships in a row isn’t easy, so if you’re able to pull it off, it says a lot about the strength of your team. The ’91 Bulls were the 1st of the championships in the Bulls first 3-peat. Led by MJ and a Scottie Pippen who had finally come into his own, with Pippen further developing as a player, they were finally able to get past the Bad Boy Pistons and get MJ his first ring. Not only did they get their first title of the MJ era, but they did it with ease. They won 61 games in the regular season and then dropped just 2 postseason games on a dominant run. That level of playoff dominance is rare and deserving of this list without a doubt. Their roster wasn’t super strong outside of Pippen and MJ, but they had plenty of guys who knew their role and a hall of fame head coach to make it work. 

13. ’14 San Antonio Spurs
Getty Images

This is the only team on this list that I think lacked a true superstar. Tim Duncan was at one point, but he was 37 in 2014 and past his prime. Kawhi Leonard, on the other hand, was 22 and not yet in his prime. However, what they lacked in star power ,they made up for in depth and coaching. This team’s bench had guys like Danny Green and Patty Mills as their 9th and 10th players. You can’t forget Greg Popvich, as there are very few coaches who I think could make a roster like this work. Not only was this team able to win 62 games, but they beat (and broke up) the big 3 Heat in just 5 games. They land a little bit lower on this list because I’m not sure how they would fare going up against the other star studded teams. If all the guys on this team were in their prime, it would certainly take the #1 spot.

14. ’16 Cleveland Cavaliers
Getty Images

Here’s the weird thing about this Cavs team: they won under 60 games and I just don’t remember them being dominant like other teams on here were. They’re considered a borderline super-team, but we spent the entire season thinking that the Warriors were the heavy favorites. Regardless, I can’t deny that they had some serious talent and deserve to be on this list. Lebron, Kyrie and Love were a strong big 3 and any team with a GOAT-level player has a good chance to make this list. Beating the 73-win Warriors after being down 3-1 might be the biggest accomplishment any team has ever had. Maybe they weren’t the favorites that year, but that’s understandable when you’re going against a 73 win team. I still have to knock them for being dogs and winning the 2nd least games on this list, but they earned their spot here.

15. ’09 Los Angeles Lakers
Getty Images

After spending a large portion of his prime on teams that didn’t put enough around him, Kobe finally got a great supporting cast again. The year prior they had acquired Pau Gasol, but failed to beat the Celtics in the finals. Their 2009 campaign went a little bit different. They ended up winning 65 games, and this time when they made the finals, they crushed the Magic. What made this team so strong was that they had—in my opinion—the best version of Kobe. At this point in his career he was insanely good at hitting tough shots and that translated well to the playoffs. So with him stepping up his game and Pau being an extremely underrated high level big, the 2009 Lakers were a very strong team.  

Categories
Sports Strength

Your Cheat Sheet To The 2021 NBA Playoffs

After five glorious months of regular season NBA basketball, the playoffs are finally here. The top 16 teams are preparing to battle it out for the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. If you’re like me and don’t have a horse in the race this postseason (my Bulls will get there one day) but still want to get in on the action, here is your ultimate cheat sheet to the 2021 NBA playoffs. 

Eastern Conference

#1 Philadelphia 76ers (49-23 record)  

#8 Washington Wizards (34-38 record)  

76ers won regular season series 3-0  

After an extremely hot end of the season, the Wizards have snuck themselves into the 8th seed. Former league MVP and triple-double king Russell Westbrook has been the main factor for the Wizards’ success. For the Wizards, making the playoffs was the biggest goal they had and they achieved it. On the other end, the 76ers have reclaimed the top spot in the East. Joel Embiid has been playing at an MVP level all season. Ben Simmons has also emerged as a top defender in the league. With a newly signed coach in Doc Rivers and a rebuilt roster, I expect the 76ers to make a deep push to the conference finals. A storyline I would follow in this series is the beef between Russell Westbrook and Joel Embiid. The two have publicly feuded on the court so this will be another great chapter in the Westbrook vs Embiid saga.

#2 Brooklyn Nets (48-24 record)  

#7 Boston Celtics (36-36 record)  

Nets won regular season series 3-0 

There is no question who the favorite to come out on top this postseason is and that would be the Brooklyn Nets. They boast a starting five that could quite frankly rival many all-star rosters with the likes of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan highlighting the bunch. Even though the Nets haven’t had much experience with a consistent rotation, they are chock-full of championship DNA. Unfortunately for the Celtics, this has been a season plagued by injury. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart missed significant time early in the season. Celtics star shooting guard Jaylen Brown is also sidelined for the season. Jayson Tatum is coming off an NBA record 50 points during his play-in game against the Wizards. One intriguing storyline to follow will be Kyrie Irving’s return to TD Garden. Irving played two seasons in Boston which ended on not great terms after he told the fans he would not be leaving. Be expecting a lot of boos when Kyrie takes the floor for game 3 in Boston.

#3 Milwaukee Bucks (46-26 record)  

#6 Miami Heat (40-32 record)  

Bucks won regular season series 2-1 

If there is one first-round matchup to keep your eyes on in the east, it is this one. In a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bucks take on the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. The Heat come into this series following a disappointing season that was largely plagued by injury. The fatigue of last year’s condensed bubble in Orlando combined with the shortened offseason added a lot of wear and tear to the Heat’s roster. Jimmy Butler tallied the fewest appearances in a season since his rookie year and the Heat record felt it. Still pretty banged up, the Heat never slow down so expect them to come out running. The Bucks, however, have had an amazing season. Even though they fell in the standings, they’re playing amazing basketball. Acquire Jrue Holiday this offseason has been the stepping stone they needed. The Bucks are finally playing with cohesiveness and I expect them to take a jump this postseason. 

#4 New York Knicks (41-31 record)  

#5 Atlanta Hawks (41-31 record)  

Knicks lead season series 3-0 

No team shocked the world more than the New York Knicks this season. Vegas predicted the Knicks would win just 22.5 games (second-lowest among all NBA teams) and they finished with almost double that. All-star forward Julius Randle has been the cornerstone of the emerging Knicks. The Knicks are coached by defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau. His impact cannot be understated as the Knicks have the most efficient defense in the entire NBA because of Thibs’ schemes. The Hawks are also enjoying a surprisingly good season in the win column. Building out their roster by adding big man Clint Capela last season and then signing Bogdan Bogdanovic and trading for Danilo Gallinari has helped turn the Hawks into playoff contenders. Allstar Trae Young has been dropping off in efficiency as of recent, so I expect the Knicks to advance pretty easily.

Western Conference

#1 Utah Jazz (52-20 record)  

#8 Memphis Grizzlies (38-34)  

Utah won season series 3-0 

The Grizzlies shocked many when they took down the Warriors in the last play-in game. Headlined by second-year star Ja Morant the Grizzlies have depth and heart. Getting Jaren Jackson Jr. back midseason is going to be huge if they want to shock the world one more time this postseason. The Jazz find themselves sitting comfortably at first in the West and it’s due to the incredible team basketball they play. With Rudy Gobert nominated for DPOY and Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson nominated for the sixth man of the year, this team is loaded with talent. If Donovan Mitchell can return to pre-injury shape, they should have no problem in the first round.

#2 Phoenix Suns (51-21 record) 

#7 Los Angeles Lakers (42-30 record) 

Suns lead season series 2-1 

It is almost poetic that after years of mediocrity the Suns finally are contenders again and they have the toughest #2 vs #7 seed maybe in NBA history. The Suns have made huge improvements to their roster, adding the likes of Jae Crowder and Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul. This will be Devin Booker’s first playoff appearance ever. Booker carries himself with a mamba mentality so I am really excited to see what he can do. Other than the Miami Heat, no team is feeling more fatigue from last season than the Lakers. Coming off an NBA championship and having to deal with a number of injuries, they have had a very wild year. The Suns do face a pretty big size disadvantage  however, so I think this series can go either way. This will notably also be the first time Chris Paul squares off against longtime banana boat brother Lebron James.

#3 Denver Nuggets (47-25 record)  

#6 Portland Trailblazers (42-30 record)  

Nuggets lead season series 2-1 

The Portland Trailblazers have had a disappointing season to say the least. After adding big man Jursuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, the Blazers looked poised to be a contender. Injuries and inconsistent play have been Portland’s Achilles heel this season. The Nuggets are having a pretty great season when accounting for the fact that all-star guard  Jamal Murray is out of the season with a torn ACL. Leading the way for the Nuggets has been MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic and Most Improved Player finalist Michael Porter Jr. This is going to be a neck-and-neck series and I think any team could come out on top. This is a rematch of the 2019 Western Conference semifinal,s which saw Portland defeat Denver in 7 games. The most notable game in that series was a quadruple OT game that saw Nikola Jokic clock 60 minutes. 

#4 Los Angeles Clippers (47-25 record) 

#5 Dallas Mavericks (42-30 record) 

Mavericks lead season series 2-1 

The only two teams who are facing each other in the first round for two years straight are the Mavericks and Clippers. Last year, the Clippers sent the Mavs home in 6 games despite some heroic performances from Luka Doncic. The Mavericks have met expectations this season, but I don’t think they have what it takes to make an extra leap. Adding Josh Richardson from the 76ers has helped fix some defensive issues but they still lack depth. The Clippers have built out their roster quite nicely this offseason on the other hand. Adding Serge Ibaka and trading for Rajon Rondo and Luke Kennard gives them a deep bag of tricks off the bench. The Clippers should be seen as a contender in the West and I think they will take care of business in the first round.

Categories
NFT Sports

Looking at the NBA Top Shot Market Before the Playoffs, with Jack Settleman

With the NBA Playoffs right around the corner, I think this is a good time to look at the NBA Top Shot market. 

Finally, it appears that the market has stabilized. 

Obviously, it came out guns blazing. But then a market correction did happen. It feels like this is the first time where we are seeing some stability. This doesn’t mean that the prices won’t drop, but it does mean that the days of a 10 percent decrease a day are most likely over. 

Since the market was crashing, what have we seen?

  1. Users have now seen access to withdrawals, which was an early that we addressed in the first couple of Top Shot blogs. 
  1. Dappers also made a lot of new hires, some coming from the NFL. The emphasis seems to be on building out the business with high level marketing members and having a strategic focus. 
  1. Top Shot has done a good job of responding to feedback. Whether it be the requirements on pack drops or removing bots from the release pool. Listening to the community will be massive for Dapper and even though it is early in their career span, they’ve seem to be receptive to feedback. 
  1. A new “King” has come forth in the NBA sphere. “Dingaling” has quickly become one of the more invested consumers of the Top Shot community. In the last few weeks, he has risen to the top ten most valued moment ranks. The “King” came in and purchased these moments “off-market” which factored into his large investment. 

I also have some thoughts/predictions about the market as the playoffs roll through… so let’s take a glance into the crystal ball.

Buy the rumors, sell the news.

Let’s say you think the Bucks will have a great playoffs. And you decide to invest in Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday…

BE PREPARED TO SELL. I do think the market will react to player performances so don’t be afraid to sell just a pinch earlier than you think.

Don’t overthink about who matters.

Don’t get fancy with Joe Harris. Stick to the basics. Buy Durant. Buy Harden. Buy Irving. The odds of a non-superstar becoming the face of a team are remarkably unlikely. Andre Iguodala winning the finals MVP is HIGHLY unlikely and shouldn’t be your model.

Avoid FOMO.

While the playoffs are the most electric time of the year… you don’t need to “FOMO” in. There will undoubtedly be a market dip during the off-season, and the NFL will ramp up. Again, this is no different than the sports card market. Keeping that cash in hand for a few months from now is not a bad idea. Once the season ends, I expect a market dip.