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“Players Only” Answers NFT Gamification Question

Last Updated: December 3, 2021
The company, founded by a group of NBA players and Houston Astro Lance McCullers, will create virtual and real life events based on NFTs.

Using NFTs in a way that makes them more than just static digital objects is a problem many minters and companies are dealing with in the new web3 ecosystem. Players Only NFT, a collection of 9,990 distinct basketball, baseball and football players living on the Ethereum blockchain with a mint price of .08 ETH, is trying to be part of the solution.

The company was founded by NBA players Jerami Grant (Pistons), Gary Harris, Terrance Ross and Michael Carter-Williams (Magic), Dennis Smith Jr. (Trail Blazers), and MLB star Lance McCullers (Astros). Players Only will form leagues for each of the three sports and include five fictional teams: Smith Jr.’s Cobras, Ross’s Dragons, Carter-Williams’ Silverbacks, Harris’s Skyhawks and Grant’s Sharks.


The teams will play each other in virtual and real-life events based off the NFTs, providing the highly sought after gamification of the NFT experience. When you buy a specific team’s NFT, you’ll be added to a Discord channel with that corresponding founder, which will also come with metaverse and IRL team events. Each team will also have its own corresponding animal foundation, like Save The Sharks and The Gorilla Organization, which will receive donations.

“I saw the authentic way in which Players Only allowed us athletes to have some fun with our fans while also staying up to date on the space as a whole,” McCullers told Boardroom. “It really gives us the platform to show a deeper side of us than just ‘he can throw a good fastball.’ The art is great, the community is great, the utility is crazy unique, and what we’re working on in the metaverse will be one-of-a-kind.”

The 3D athletes will be metaverse-ready, though the company’s website hasn’t divulged what that means quite yet. What is clear is that some of Players Only’s NFT offerings will be attached to signed memorabilia, regular season and playoff tickets, game-used gear and Zoom chats with the pro players. McCullers contends that what makes Players Only stand out is the athletes themselves.

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“It’s not something we’re just promoting,” he said. “It’s our project and ideas being brought to life. There’s no more direct sports utility than from the players.”

McCullers and the others aim to create something larger than a company and more like a movement.

“A movement,” he said, “where us athletes have a real voice in what we’re doing and the utility we’re offering to our holders.”

It’s a concept that, if it takes off, will be yet another new avenue to bring fans and pro athletes together.

About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.