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The NBA Keeps Proving it’s the Sports World’s Blockchain Leader

Last Updated: July 6, 2023
The Sacramento Kings are about to popularize a serious Bitcoin trend across the sporting landscape.

The NBA continues to be a trailblazer in the crypto space. Whether it’s NBA Top Shot’s breakout, crypto exchange company FTX purchasing naming rights to the Miami Heat’s arena, or teams increasingly offering fans the ability to buy tickets and merchandise with various cryptocurrencies, basketball keeps finding ways to lead the way in normalizing and popularizing blockchain technology in sports.

The league’s latest crypto crossover? The Sacramento Kings, led by CEO and owner Vivek Ranadivé, announced last week that the organization will be offering employees the option to receive their salaries in Bitcoin.

“(Employees) can get paid as much of their salary in Bitcoin as they want, including the players,” Ranadivé said during a recent discussion on Clubhouse.

The news comes one month after Ranadivé and other NBA owners like Dallas’ Mark Cuban and Brooklyn’s Joe Tsai created a Blockchain Advisory Subcommittee with the goal of exploring ways to integrate crypto technology across the league to enhance business, fan engagement, and game day experience.

The offer to pay all employees, including players, with cryptocurrency does come with an obstacle, however. The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NBPA requires that teams pay players through either direct deposit or paper check.

There’s a workaround, however. Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Russell Okung made headlines when he opted to receive half his salary in Bitcoin; due to a similar CBA obstacle in the NFL, the Panthers paid Okung through a digital payment platform called Strike, which instantly converts dollars to Bitcoin directly and in real time.

Okung’s decision was a lucrative one — and the potential for NBA stars to experience an absolute windfall is massive. For instance, if Steph Curry had received 100% of his $40,231,758 salary in 2019-20 via Bitcoin, that sum would be worth approximately $240,000,000 based on current market value.

Yes, read that number again.

The Kings are no stranger to the crypto space, auctioning game-worn jerseys on the Ethereum blockchain in early 2020. In fact, the Kings have accepted Bitcoin as a method of payment dating all the way back to 2014, when 1 BTC was worth about $500-$700 month to month.

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Any individual team or executive could propose these types of initiatives. But given the NBA’s status as the ultimate player empowerment league, it has an advantage in making them a reality at speed.

Today, Bitcoin has surged (to put it lightly) over the last calendar year, up more than 660% from $7,000 last April to now over $60,000 as of this writing. With that in mind, the NBA is wasting no time in ramping up its cryptocurrency initiatives — and forcing the rest of the sports world to take notice.

About The Author
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn is the Managing Editor of Boardroom. Before joining the team, he was an editor and multimedia talent for several sports and culture verticals at Minute Media and an editor, reporter, and site manager at SB Nation. A specialist in content strategy, copywriting, and SEO, he has additionally worked as a digital consultant in the corporate services, retail, and tech industries. He cannot be expected to be impartial on any matter regarding the Florida Gators or Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter @RealFakeSamDunn.