NBA union executive leads talks to help players make more money from NFTs

Joi Garner, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of THINK450, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the National Basketball Players Association.

Source: Joi Garner

The National Basketball Association and its players union will soon benefit from the rise of the NFTs, and union officer Joi Garner leads one side of the discussion.

The league and the National Basketball Players Association are negotiating with Dapper Labs to rerun a 2019 license agreement. Dapper is the creator of the popular NFT brand, NBA Top Shot. Garner is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Think450, the licensing and marketing arm of NBPA. She said the renewal talks piqued the players’ interest.

“It’s probably the most requested license agreement [among players]”Garner told CNBC.

Garner, who is the negotiator for NBPA deals discussions, was unable to reveal details of the discussions with Dapper for privacy reasons. But she said the union would maximize player value as NFTs grew in popularity.

The NBA licenses clips to Dapper Labs, which they digitize and convert into a limited number of NFTs to increase the scarcity of their top shot product. Some NFTs offer highlights in different angles and digital graphics. And many of the NFTs are sold out.

In licensing agreements, leagues and unions usually receive a percentage of revenue from the sale of an intellectual property company’s product. And it’s not uncommon for a stake to be included in deals either.

In 2017, the NBA granted players their naming, image, and likeness rights so that the NBPA could also coordinate rights money. As a result, companies must enter into dual agreements with the NBA and NBPA in licensing deals.

According to a report on blockchain news site CoinDesk, Dapper Labs is worth more than $ 7.5 billion after a recent fundraiser. In a February CNBC article, the company said NBA Top Shot products generated over $ 230 million in revenue.

With these figures, the NBPA gets a good overview of the income generated. Garner joked that she needs to get this agreement right, adding the union-hired technical advisors to provide input on the future of the NFTs.

“The pressure on this deal ensures we are getting the greatest possible value for the players,” said Garner. “What we don’t want is to take out jewelry insurance” or take less money now for a product that will generate more in the future.

Aim for $ 200 million

Against the background of contract negotiations, Garner joined the NBPA in 2018 under Think450 President Payne Brown. The unit was created to increase sales for players who take advantage of licensing and marketing agreements. Most recently, Garner has signed union agreements with companies like Kia and DoorDash.

The Think450 unit is slated to generate $ 200 million over the next few years, and Garner will play a major role.

“The goal for Payne when he joined us in 2018 was that he wanted to double sales in five years. That’s a big goal, but he hasn’t forgotten, and neither have I,” said Garner .

Garner said NBPA is reviewing content distribution offers for three projects, including a documentary covering Vince Carter’s final season and the 2020 pandemic season. This documentary features behind-the-scenes footage of the NBA’s NBA campus by a production team from Pop stars Beyonce were filmed.

“This story we’re finalizing is about to hit the market,” Garner said, adding that the film project will be finalized with the April 2021 ruling in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

Garner is also monitoring the CBD sector for licensing deals, but added that the NBPA would need to consult the NBA as products could contain marijuana, which is still banned nationwide, although states are allowed to legalize it.

She said the Think450 will be in “hyper-growth mode” for the remainder of 2021. However, before it looks to the future, completing the renewal with Top Shot is a top priority.

“Confusing that wouldn’t do me any good,” said Garner. “Everyone is watching. I think the industry is also watching how this works and whether NFTs will stay here.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd.

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