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WNBA: Banking on digital coin

Basketball

May 23, 2022
M. ANTHONY NESMITH/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
M. ANTHONY NESMITH/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: Coinbase is doubling down on the WNBA. On Thursday, the crypto exchange platform announced a new wave of partnerships with various league stakeholders, after the brand became a partner with the W in October. The move solidifies Coinbase’s bet on basketball and furthers the WNBA’s presence in the world of blockchain.

The context: Coinbase initially became the first crypto partner of the WNBA and NBA in the fall. Through that original deal, the platform became the W’s exclusive crypto platform, and the first presenting partner of the Commissioner’s Cup.

  • Those weren’t the only agreements Coinbase made in Q4. The company also became the presenting partner of USA Basketball’s women’s and men’s national team exhibition tours.

The new deals: The platform will now sponsor the Players Association (WNBPA), the New York Liberty, the Seattle Storm, and Storm troopers players Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd. The WNBPA partnership will provide perks for all players: Coinbase will set up accounts — with free crypto — for all 144 ballers.

  • Players will also have access to crypto education from Coinbase experts, with the rookies getting a head start — this year’s first-round draft picks learned about digital currency and NFTs at orientation.

Zooming out: Along with its NWSL equivalent, the WNBPA is unique among player unions in that it books commercial partners independent of its league. Given that ability, the WNBPA has specifically chosen to be a major player in the blockchain space — especially when it comes to NFTs.

  • One red flag? Earlier this month, cryptocurrencies lost more than $300 billion in value over the course of a week. Yikes. Only time will tell how, or if, that will impact the women’s sports sphere.