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Golden State Warriors first sports team to launch digital NFT collection

Golden State Warriors President & COO Brandon Schneider sat down with Yahoo Finance's Reggie Wade to discuss the NBA team's launch of a digital NFT collection, the first professional sports team to do so. He discusses the different digital goods up for auction, as well as the impact the auction will have on their Warriors Community Foundation, and the potential future for more NFT collectibles.

Video Transcript

REGGIE WADE: More and more people, platforms, and organizations are getting into the NFT game. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are digital assets, like audio, image, or video, with a unique signature that's tracked and accounted for by blockchain technology. The Golden State Warriors have become the first professional sports team to release a NFT, the Golden State Warriors Legacy NFT Collection. The officially licensed digital collection commemorates the team's six NBA championships and includes digital collectibles of the most iconic games in franchise history. A portion of all proceeds from the Warriors NFT collection will go towards the Warrior Community Foundation, which focuses on Bay Area educational equity.

Joining Yahoo Finance now is Golden State Warriors President and Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Schneider. Brandon, thank you so much for being with Yahoo Finance today.

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Thanks, Reggie, for having me on.

REGGIE WADE: So first, why NFTs and why now?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: It's a good question. I think, you know, NFTs has been around now for years, but have really started to take off in the last six to eight months. We are constantly thinking about new ways to engage our fans. And clearly, being where we are in the Bay Area, from a technology standpoint, as the world continues to digitize in a certain way, we thought, this is something we've been looking at.

And then, you know, earlier this year, when you really started to see NBA Top Shot take off, I think we all really took notice. And so at that point, we created a task force internally and started talking about, you know, how do we use this new cool technology to engage our fans? So we've been working on this really hard for the last few months to get us to this point. And we are so excited to be the first sports team to be releasing an NFT collection tomorrow.

REGGIE WADE: Could you talk to us a little bit about this collection? What are some of the things that bidders get?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Yeah. So we tried to create things that you couldn't, like you can't own the physical thing but you can own the NFT. So we did-- you mentioned iconic moments in franchise history-- so we have 10 different ticket stubs, some from as far back as 1947. We actually won the first NBA championship ever that year. And so these are things, like even if somebody still has the ticket stub from back then, it's probably just a, you know, a little piece of paper.

And so we said-- so we worked with Black Madre, really famous artist, to create really cool, creative ticket stubs. And there's only 10 of each one. So that each of the 10 ticket stubs are one of 10. And then we created a special one of one ticket stub that incorporates all 74 years of our history.

Then we also did championship rings. Obviously, like unless you were a player on the Golden State Warriors, you didn't win a championship ring. Well, now for the first time ever, our fans will be able to buy an NFT that is the exact creative of the ring. We worked with Jason of Beverly Hills, who created the last three rings, and they've also worked to do the first three rings as well. And so those, there's 25 of the first three championship rings, and then there's 50 of the second three. And then the person who buys number one of 25, or one of 50, will also get a physical ring. So we think that tie-in between the physical and the digital NFT is a cool touch.

And then one of the things we're really excited about, we worked with Jason of Beverly Hills to create a one of one ring that encompasses all six of our championships. So you buy a one of one NFT and it comes with the physical ring. I was joking this morning that, like I want that ring, and I was being told, well, you've got to win the auction. Because we're only creating one of them.

And then the last thing I'll say, the one of one rings come with really cool experiences. If you win the auction for the one of one ring, we're going to do a ring ceremony for that collector. And then we're doing Warriors for a day for that one of one ticket stub, where you get to sign a one-day contract, you get courtside seats for a game. So we think, again, the combination of the digital collectible with the physical, in certain cases, and the experience is a cool way for us to launch this.

REGGIE WADE: Brandon, worries about the first team ever to come out with their own NFT? Does being in northern California, so close to the tech capital of the world, did that play a role on why the Warriors are leading in the space?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: You know, it's an interesting question. I think the answer has to be yes. And I think the way I would say that is because of where we are and who our partners are, we have some of the biggest technology companies in the world are partners of the Warriors, you know, Google Cloud and HPE and Oracle and RingCentral, Verizon. I can keep going. And I probably shouldn't have named names, because I didn't name all of them. Accenture.

But I think it's just become part of our DNA, right? We all live here and see, we're kind of ground zero in terms of all the new technology that's out there. So that just influences the mindset of everyone that works for the Warriors. And we also hold ourself to a higher standard, understanding, the same I just said for us is also true for our fans. They're in the Bay Area. They're used to tech innovation. And so they kind of hold us to that standard, which we appreciate. It continues to challenge us to be on the cutting edge, to be forward thinking, and to be involved in new technologies like NFTs and blockchain.

REGGIE WADE: Brandon, through the Warrior Community Foundation, the Golden State Warriors have really led when it comes to educational equity. I was a former teacher, so I know how important it is. How does that NFT tie into this, and what are some of the things the Warriors are doing around education?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Reggie, I did not know you were a teacher. You share that fact with Nicole Lacob, who is the president of the board for the Warriors Community Foundation. So our foundation has granted over $22 million in impact since its inception in 2012. And that number, our annual number continues to grow as we diversify our fundraising opportunities.

I think, this was important to us, we do one of our big fundraisers every year is a poker tournament that all of our players go to. And because of COVID, we weren't able to do it this year. But it's really important to us, like we don't want the amount of money that we grant out to go down. So we're hoping that one of the nice results of this NFT auction process is that we're able to write a really nice check to our foundation to help fill that gap.

We focus on educational equity in San Francisco, in Alameda counties. And as you know, there's as much of a need, or more, than ever, given the current time. So it was really, really important to us that this benefited our foundation.

REGGIE WADE: Brandon, I have to ask you, what's next in the NFT space for the Warriors? Are we going to see player-specific NFTs? Are we going to have the Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, are they going to get in on the action?

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: You know, it's interesting. I mean, we-- maybe, probably. You know, working with the league, there's certain regulations out there. And everyone's trying, everyone's learning together and trying to figure out what this looks like, because it's such a new space.

Look, if I knew where NFTs were going, I'd probably be doing something else. But what I can tell you is, they're here to stay. We view this as the beginning of the beginning. We think it's going to evolve. But it'll be interesting.

And I'll tell you this, too, you know, we pride ourselves on being one organization in business and basketball really working together. I mean, we don't delineate in that manner. We're all one team. So we've shared with our players what we're working on, and they think it's awesome. They're excited about it. And so you know, we have innovative players. I wouldn't be surprised to see these guys get to do something in the space moving forward. But we'll have to see.

REGGIE WADE: Thank you so much for joining us today on Yahoo Finance. Brandon Schneider, Golden State Warriors President and COO.

BRANDON SCHNEIDER: Thank you very much, Reggie.