The lament of the sports card owner used to be: My mom threw out all my cards – and I know I had a Mickey Mantle or two.

Today, if the owner has valuable cards from decades ago, the regret is that those cards were not kept in pristine condition.

We are experiencing two parallel phenomenas in the sports card world. The traditional one, and the crypto version, and both are exploding at breakneck speed.  Here’s what you need to know, and how you might be able to make some money…

A Kobe Bryant card brought $1.795 late Saturday on Goldin Auctions.

The Kobe card had perfect 10s – all involving the card’s physical condition — across the board, giving it the “black label pristine condition, which is the highest possible obtainable grade,” Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, told ESPN on Sunday. 

And it’s a very different game when a young player for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks inspired a collector to spend $4.6 million on his rookie card, just short of the record trading card price, $5.2 million, set by a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card.

That Luka Doncic basketball card, sold Feb. 28, is only the latest example in a sports memorabilia world that recently welcomed the NFT.

(NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, can take the form of anything from a sports collectible to so-called “crypto art.” A digitized flying cat recently sold for $580,000.) 

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is in. He put an NFT of his famous first-ever tweet: “just setting up my twttr” from 2006.

As of Monday morning, the bidding reached $2.5 million.

The sports world is in, too.

You’ve heard of “owning the moment”? The platform called NBA Top Shot allows collectors to literally own a “moment,” described as a particular video highlight that, due to blockchain technology, actually belongs to the buyer.

Platforms within the NFT universe identify, confirm and keep track of digital-asset ownership.

OK, so how much are those worth? 

A LeBron James dunk sold for more than $200,000 via NBA Top Shot, which managed more than $150 million in NFT highlight clip sales during the final week of February alone.

Among those employed in the burgeoning industry, Caty Tedman can’t help but see nothing but upside.

Tedman is one of the creators of Top Shot and the head of marketing and team partnerships for Dapper Labs. She sees what all sports fans see: the excitement and appreciation for elite athletic feats.

“What do basketball fans love?… It’s the spectacular play that happens on the court every night,” Tedman told CNBC, promoting the freedom offered in the digital space.

“The amount of stuff that we can cram into a collectible is a lot more than you could have on a physical (card).”

Tedman, who worked for the NFL, NHL and ESPN, also helped develop the digital craze “cryptokitties,” which she said helped spin the Top Shot idea.

“When you look at brands like the NBA, their fanbase is skewed younger,” Tedman told Sportechie last month. “As a company, they’re really open to testing and adopting new technology.”

And Tedman added, in the CNBC Make It story, that Top Shot’s success includes the common collector (read: not rich) who has helped facilitate more than “half a million transactions in the $9 range.

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