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Ice Cube: BIG3 Re-Launching Its Ethereum NFT Team Stakes to Make Them ‘Juicy Enough’

The 3-on-3 basketball league is adding more features to its team ownership NFTs following issues with May’s original mint.

7 min read
Rapper and BIG3 league co-founder Ice Cube. Image: BIG3

In brief

  • The BIG3 pro basketball league, co-founded by rapper Ice Cube, is offering team ownership stakes via NFTs.
  • The mint will continue on June 10, with the bulk of the NFTs rebranded and now offering additional benefits to owners.

Rapper and actor Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league is using Ethereum NFTs to decentralize team ownership, and the initiative has already attracted major investors such as Snoop Dogg and Gary Vaynerchuk, plus NFT communities like Moonbirds and DeGods.

However, the public mint process for the thousands of team NFTs on May 8 went awry due to technical issues, so the league opted to pause the launch and regroup.

Today, BIG3 announced that it will continue the mint on June 10 and enhance the newly-rebranded, entry-level NFTs by adding further benefits for holders.

“We pulled back and said: Well, this gives us time to rethink our Gold tier and make sure that it's juicy enough for the kind of buyer who really may not see the long-term play in this,” Ice Cube told Decrypt. “This is a long-term play. That’s what we want buyers to understand.”

The FEAT—or “Forever Experience Action Token”—is an Ethereum NFT that replaces the previous Gold-tier team ownership tokens. Each of the league’s 12 teams has 975 such FEAT NFTs priced at $4,500 apiece, and the Gold NFTs that were already sold during the halted mint last month will now be considered FEAT tokens with the additional features in tow.

An NFT is a blockchain token that serves as proof of ownership. They’re often used for digital goods such as artwork, profile pictures, and sports collectibles, but can also represent access to online communities, real-world events, and more. In this case, a BIG3 NFT represents an ownership stake in a basketball team and comes with various perks.

Already, the Gold-tier NFTs offer holders benefits like VIP tickets to all BIG3 live games, exclusive team merchandise, voting on certain club decisions, access to calls with Ice Cube and league officials, and more. The FEAT upgrade adds more to the equation.

FEAT buyers will now be able to choose which team they want to buy into, which wasn’t an option during the initial mint. Plus, there will be randomly-awarded upgrades to the teams’ Fire-tier NFTs, which sell for $25,000 a piece and come with additional benefits. FEAT owners will also have access to license-free league media and can use it to create their own content.

Lastly, the league will add the ability for collectors to swap five of the FEAT tokens for a “BrushFire” token, which the league says will act like a Fire-tier NFT with most of the added benefits included.

A league representative told Decrypt that the BrushFire tokens do not enable holders a share of the sale price—40% goes to Fire NFT holders—should a BIG3 team be sold to private owners in the future. Such a sale requires a majority vote from Fire NFT holders, and the rep said that BrushFire token owners would not be able to veto such a move.

In a Discord post on the official BIG3 server on Friday, the league clarified that BrushFire token holders will not be able to vote on team leadership roles, including CEO, President, and Vice President. Only Fire NFT holders will have a say in those decisions.

With many of the Fire-tier NFTs going to major investors and communities, Ice Cube said that the BIG3 wanted to offer another way for individual fans to join specific teams at a higher level with most of the same perks included. It could also boost secondary market sales over time as people consider buying extra FEAT tokens to make the jump up.

“At the end of the day, our Fire tier is limited because a lot of [the NFTs] were bought up,” said Ice Cube about the new BrushFire token option. “Maybe you’ve got some guys out there that want to connect to a certain community, and get the same respect as the Fire tier.”

FEAT is forever?

Ice Cube attributed hitches with the initial drop to “trying to do too much” at once—sell NFTs to both crypto-savvy NFT enthusiasts with Ethereum in hand, but also newcomers that were trying to convert funds and figure out how to use crypto wallets. “It didn’t really work right,” he added.

For the new drop on June 10 with the enhanced FEAT tokens, the BIG3 will roll out batches of tokens, starting with 375 NFTs for each team to start.

Eventually, across multiple waves, they’ll release 975 total FEAT tokens for each of the 12 teams. That sum includes upgraded Gold-tier NFTs that were already purchased during the previous drop attempt.

The “Forever” part of the acronym makes a claim on the hopeful future of the 3-on-3 pro hoops league, which was founded in 2017 and features an array of former NBA players both on the court and calling the shots from the sidelines.

But as Ice Cube said, they’re trying to show people that there’s a long-term vision for the league and this NFT ownership initiative.

“This is an NFT, but it's bigger and better because there are actions and experiences with this,” he said. “It’s not just art to flip—it’s something to hold. You could pass it down generationally.”

“The best case scenario for the BIG3 is that this ends up in the hands of fans and investors that really want to invest in the growth of the league,” Ice Cube continued, “and see that the league can be around as long as the NBA or longer if we do the right things and have the right communities fanning the flames, so to speak.”

Since announcing the team ownership initiative in April, the BIG3 has revealed a number of partners that have bought all 25 Fire-tier NFTs for teams. That gives the owners rights including votes on team leadership decisions, the ability to create and profit from team merchandise, and opportunities to share their branding in the league, which broadcasts games on CBS.

Buyers include a number of celebrities and communities from across the Web3 space, including rapper Snoop Dogg, tech entrepreneur Kevin Rose and his Moonbirds NFT community, and investor and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk (creator of VeeFriends).

Others include tech investor Bill Lee and his MyDoge Dogecoin wallet startup, the DeGods NFT community, and Krause House, a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) focused on buying and operating professional sports teams.

Ice Cube believes that the communities and creators will have an immediate impact on the league’s momentum and exposure.

“Once the league starts, everything goes to a fever pitch. Once the games are played and once we have winners and losers, then you'll have animated communities. They will amplify everything we're doing in ways that we can't even imagine,” he said. “Their passion is going to help the league, and that’s why we want them there.”

Ice Cube said that some of the owners were onsite for the BIG3’s draft event last month, and they’re already getting rivalries started—Krause House members, which will control the BIG3’s Ball Hogs, were “talking a little shit” about the DeGods crew behind the BIG3’s Killer 3s. He expects that on a much larger scale once the new season gets underway.

The crypto and NFT markets are in a far worse place than they were when the BIG3 initiative was announced in early April. Ice Cube acknowledged the impact of the downturn, saying that the “market was in a downward spiral” around the time of the paused mint last month.

Still, he believes that enough buyers will still seize on the opportunity to buy a team stake in a professional sports league and “go along for the ride” as the BIG3 seeks further growth ahead.

“Markets go up and down, but this is not tied to the market,” said Ice Cube. “This is for people who want experiences and want to grow with the league as we do everything we can to expand and make the league bigger and more global.”

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