NFT Sports Cards: How to Start Building Your Collection

Learn how NFTs work and where to get them in our ultimate guide to this exciting new collectibles market
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If you’re a sports fan, chances are you’re a bit of a collector as well. Between jerseys, hats, and sports cards, there are many ways to show off your team spirit, honor your favorite athletes, or amass a complete set from your favorite team or season. Thanks to web3 technologies, there’s a new way to collect beyond physical objects: NFTs.

NFT sports cards offer a unique digital twist to sports collectibles, allowing fans to own shares of their favorite rare sports cards or collect digital representations of the best moments in sporting history. If you’re new to the NFT realm, don’t worry. Our ultimate guide will tell you everything you need to know about how NFTs work, how much they cost, and where you can pick some up for yourself.


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What are NFT sports cards?

What are the most valuable athlete NFTs?

Where to buy NFT sports cards

What are NFT sports cards?


Put simply, NFT sports cards are digital representations of collectible sports cards, with unique mechanisms to replicate the rarity and value inherent in their physical counterparts. When you buy an NFT sports card, you get a digital tokenized asset with purchase provenance backed up on the blockchain to ensure validity.

NFT stands for non-fungible token — non-fungible being the key phrase. When you purchase an NFT, the transaction is recorded on the blockchain, a decentralized peer-to-peer ledger containing purchase records made with cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. This record is unique and cannot be duplicated, ensuring that you are the sole owner of your NFT until you decide to sell it.

The result is very similar to owning physical trading cards. NFT sports cards can be sold in blind packs with an assortment of NFTs of varying rarity and value or individually traded or sold to other collectors. The biggest difference is that with NFTs, everything is digital.

There are two types of collectible NFT sports cards:

Digitally native sports NFTs

Digitally native sports NFTs are the closest to a one-to-one recreation of the physical trading card experience, but they can be much more. Brands like NBA Top Shot allow collectors to purchase packs of sports card NFTs that contain specific moments in NBA and WNBA history. These aren’t just static images — they’re a collage of full-motion video and slick 3D animations that make the NFT truly dynamic.


On-chain collectible trading cards

On-chain collectible trading cards blend the physical and digital worlds. Collectible cards are converted into digital assets, and collectors can purchase NFTs that represent those cards, giving them confirmation of ownership. Ownership can be purchased outright or divvied up into fractions, allowing multiple people to own a slice of their favorite rare collectibles. The Dibbs marketplace is where multiple collectors can buy, trade, and sell fractionalized sports cards. While a Luka Dončić rookie card may be out of reach for many, it’s far easier to pick up a few shares of a digital asset and own a piece of basketball history.

Read "What Are Sports NFTs?" for more detailed information on how NFT technology functions on the blockchain.


What are the most valuable athlete NFTs?


Like their physical counterparts, sports card NFTs command impressive prices on marketplaces like Dibbs or Opensea. Here are a few athletes who have sold some of the most expensive NFTs to date:

Lionel Messi

The Argentinian soccer star made waves with an announced partnership with BossLogic and the Ethernity NFT marketplace to design and sell an NFT collection dubbed “The Messiverse.” The star of the collection — a one-of-a-kind golden NFT sports card depicting the star player — sold for over $1 million at the collection’s launch.


Zion Williamson

An NBA Top Shot moment of a stellar block the New Orleans Pelicans star made during his rookie season reached a top sale value of $115,000 on the Top Shots marketplace. While the value has decreased since the purchase, it still commands an average sale of around $18,000 per transaction.

While these cards are the ones that generate headlines, many other sports NFTs are far more affordable. Individual cards start at just a few dollars on the ToppsNFT or NBA Top Shot marketplaces, and blind packs of cards range between $5-$20 for common sets. 

Visit "10 of the Most Valuable Athlete NFTs" to find out which players command the highest prices on the NFT marketplace.


Where to buy NFT sports cards


If you’re looking to dip your toes into the sports card NFT market and start building your collection, there are quite a few options available:


Dibbs is the world’s only real-time 24-7 fractional collectible market, offering digital shares of real-life sports cards. Hang onto a slice of a rare Jackie Robinson card for posterity, buy, sell, and trade shares as the market fluctuates, or go all-in and own the whole card — including the authentic physical copy — for yourself.


NBA Top Shots


NBA Top Shots is the officially licensed marketplace for digital NBA assets. Here, you can purchase “Moments” — animated plays created from decades of NBA and WNBA history — and purchase them individually or in limited series of blind packs.

NFL All Day


NFL All Day is created by the same team that built NBA Top Shots and offers the ability to buy and trade officially licensed video NFT Moments from throughout football history.

Candy Digital


Candy Digital offers the officially licensed NFT marketplace for Major League Baseball. Featuring a similar experience to NBA Top Shots and NFL All Day, Candy Digital allows collectors to own some of their favorite plays in baseball history through its marketplace, along with a rotating Play of the Day collection.

For information about other options like Opensea and Topps NFTs, read our guide on "The 9 Top Sports NFT Marketplaces in 2022".