Monthly Archives: January 2020

NBA’s Sacramento Kings to auction game-worn jerseys using Ethereum blockchain

The Sacramento Kings haven’t had a winning season since 2006, but with a roster of young stars like Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox, it thinks there’s a market for its authenticated memorabilia.

The Kings today announced a new auction platform for bidding on sports jerseys and apparel during games. The auctions are made possible by Treum, a ConsenSys product for blockchain-backed supply chains, and will take place during each Sacramento home game. (Disclosure: ConsenSys funds Decrypt.)

The first auction will be held tonight during Sacramento’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, with Hield’s game-worn jersey going to the winner.

This isn’t a sign that the Kings are cash-strapped—look no further than Harrison Barnes’ four-year, $85 million contract for proof. Everything raised during the auction is going to charity. The team says the proceeds from tonight’s auction will go to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts and that future proceeds will go to its non-profit foundation.

It’s not the first time the Kings have innovated using blockchain
tech. In fact, it’s been well ahead of the curve compared to other North American sports teams. It accepted Bitcoin
for payment in 2014, started mining cryptocurrency in 2018, and began selling physical crypto-collectibles last year. The Kings even have their own ERC20 token to reward fans.

Its latest venture works like this: From tipoff until midnight, fans in the arena or at home can bid on the live auction item. The highest bidder gets the gear, complete with a certificate of authenticity and a time-stamped Ethereum
token showing how the memorabilia has changed owners.

In a press release, the Kings said that despite the American sport memorabilia market being worth more than $5 billion annually, “there are no industry standards for authenticating items and protecting fans from purchasing counterfeit merchandise. Through this partnership, the Kings and ConsenSys are effectively increasing the resale potential for authenticated merchandise on secondary markets.”

And who knows? The resale value for that Buddy Hield jersey could be pretty high when he leads Sacramento to its first NBA title next year, eh Kings fans?

What Steve Young believes is 49ers’ biggest concern entering NFL playoffs

After roaring to an 8-0 record, the 49ers became wounded down the stretch this season, looking more vulnerable as the injuries piled up.

Still, the 49ers were able to secure a win in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, giving them a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage throughout.

As the No. 1 seed at 13-3, coach Kyle Shanahan’s team is seen as the presumptive Super Bowl favorite coming out of the NFC. But that doesn’t mean there are no red flags, according to 49ers legend and Hall of Famer Steve Young.

“This defensive line, I thought was top in the league, maybe top two,” Young told KNBR’s “Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks” during the 49ers’ bye week. “Remember the game where they just mauled Aaron Rodgers and he put the white flag up? That’s what those defenses like Denver, when Peyton Manning couldn’t raise his arm and they still won the Super Bowl, or Seattle, Baltimore had a group like that. There are teams that have had these ferocious defensive lines, and we’ve lost that.

“I understand there were injuries and so forth, but that’s my greatest concern. Without that, our defense becomes something where everyone has to stand out on their own and a ferocious defensive line can kind of mask a lot of stuff, and that’s my concern. You run into these teams that can put up big points, and you don’t pull it out 48-46, you lose a game because you’re not putting the pressure on the quarterback that you need to.”

The 49ers’ defensive line was one of the most dominant units in all of football through the first 10 weeks of the season, But injuries to a number of players, including Dee Ford and D.J. Jones, has put a lot of pressure and wear on the likes of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead.

Ford is a game-time decision for Saturday’s NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Minnesota Vikings, but the 49ers will get linebacker Kwon Alexander and safety Jaquiski Tartt back, which should help solidify the second and third levels of the defense.

The 49ers will have to bottle up running back Dalvin Cook on Saturday and force Kirk Cousins to make accurate throws into tight windows to beat them. If they can do that, they should punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game.

A fully healthy defensive line will provide a big lift to a 49ers team that will need to get the Vikings behind the sticks and turn up the heat on Cousins on third-and-long.

If the defensive front isn’t whole, Young worries that some of the 49ers’ other issues could be exposed at some point in the playoffs.

“There’s other issues that we know the team has, but we haven’t had to worry about them,” Young said. “… I really believed this defensive line was supposed to be the best in the league, and if I have that, the rest of it is going to fall into place. If I don’t, then I’m at risk.”

Miami Heat to celebrate Dwyane Wade’s jersey retirement over three days between Feb. 21-23

There isn’t a more celebrated player in Miami Heat history than Dwyane Wade.

For 15 seasons in South Beach, he donned the No. 3 jersey while dazzling fans on a nightly basis as he hit career milestones, won championships and repeatedly claimed Miami as his city. His farewell tour last season was emotional, as he swapped jerseys with a different player on the opposing team following every game, was named an honorary All-Star for his final season alongside Dirk Nowitzki and ended his career by putting up 30 points in his final home game inside American Airlines Arena.

Wade has made a huge impact on the NBA and basketball as a whole, and when the time comes will undoubtedly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, before that happens the Heat are making sure that no one else will ever wear the No. 3 jersey in Miami as the team has plans to retire Wade’s jersey on Feb. 22 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, as originally reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The celebration will take place over three days, with a more expansive ceremony happening the night before on an off day for the Heat, which will be for season-ticket holders only. The raising of Wade’s jersey to the rafters will happen during halftime of Miami’s game against the Cavaliers the next day, and on Feb. 23 there will be a debut screening of Wade’s documentary inside the arena, as reported by Winderman. Wade will become the fifth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, the most recent being Wade’s former teammate Chris Bosh who was honored in March 2019.

Wade retired with the Heat as the franchise’s all-time leader in points (21,556), assists (5310) and steals (1.492), and led the charge to help Miami win its first championship in franchise history in 2006, by overcoming a 2-0 NBA Finals deficit against the Dallas Mavericks. After LeBron James and Bosh joined Wade in 2010, the three formed one of the most fearsome Big 3s in NBA history, making the Finals four straight times, and winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

LSU vs Clemson: Key facts and storylines one week before the national championship

It will be all about the Tigers when No. 1 LSU faces off against No. 3 Clemson in the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship game in New Orleans.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. LSU is anywhere from a 5.5-to-6.5-point favorite to win.

The undefeated LSU Tigers beat Oklahoma 63-28 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Undefeated Clemson managed a 29-23 win over Ohio State during the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the big game.
What are the biggest stories to watch?

The quarterback battle will be a highlight of the match. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will face off against Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

The two quarterbacks have combined for more than 8,000 yards passing and more than 80 passing touchdowns this season.

Burrow is on track to break a number of major FBS records in his final game with the LSU Tigers.

Who will take the field for LSU?

The LSU Tigers are expected to have a number of key players back and at full strength for the national championship.

Senior Linebacker Michael Divinity will make a major return to the field. Divinity left the team on Nov. 4 to “focus on a personal matter” and returned to practice on Nov. 18. LSU cleared Divinity to play in games Tuesday morning.

Previously limited by a hamstring injury, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is expected to be at full strength for the national championship. He practiced with “no limitations” last week.

Safety Grant Delpit has battled through injuries this season, but his once sprained ankle is feeling healthier. He hopes to cement his legacy during the game.

Who’s on LSU’s injured list?

Wide receiver Terrace Marshall and Damien Lewis have missed several practices since LSU coach Ed Orgeron announced they were recovering from injuries sustained in the Peach Bowl.

Redshirt freshman running back Chris Curry practiced in a gold non-contact jersey last week. The 6-foot, 215-pound Florida native started in place of Edwards-Helaire in the Peach Bowl and rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries.
How expensive are tickets?

Data shared by StubHub last week showed their average price of tickets sold was hovering in the range of $1,719, with the cheapest tickets available in the range of $1,275.

TicketIQ, which tracks prices of secondary market tickets, projected prices to rise above $3,000 with LSU making it to the championship game that will be played about 70 miles from its campus.

To help Clemson fans get to Louisiana, multiple airlines added additional direct flights to Louis Armstrong International Airport.

A number of people in the news will be making it to the game, including President Donald Trump.

LSU superfan Colton Moore was gifted tickets to the national championship game. The 9-year-old spina bifida patient from Alabama had the chance to meet Coach Ed Orgeron earlier this year.

A fellow LSU fan who won big on a bet that Joe Burrow would win the Heisman Trophy donated some of his winnings to a fundraiser to buy Moore a new wheelchair-accessible van.
How can I watch the game if I can’t make it to New Orleans?

The game will be broadcast on ESPN and on the ESPN “megacast.”
Where can I get an LSU jersey?

LSU merchandise was a hot seller across Baton Rouge during the holidays. And those strong sales are expected to carry on into early 2020, with the Tigers facing Clemson in the College Football Championship game on January 13.

The increased demand for LSU products has meant some items have been hard to find, such as replica jerseys for the Tiger’s Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Nike, which makes the officially licensed adult LSU jerseys, only produces one run of replicas that stores order a few months in advance of the season. Because no one could predict the record-breaking season Burrow would have this year, number 9 jerseys have been sold out.

Marin County teen on quest to find fallen teammate’s jersey after car break-in, theft

A basketball player for Marin County’s Branson High School Bulls is desperately trying to find a jersey stolen out of his car that belonged to his fallen classmate.

The team held one last practice on Thursday morning before yet another big game. And while they will have five men on the court, this team will still go into battle feeling one man short.

“Kwentyn was like our distributor, scorer, playmaker, he was everything,” said teammate Mike Keefe. Hence the words on their shoes, which read, “All For You.”

The former #11, Kwentyn Wiggins, died in a late-night, solo car crash on Highway 101 in Corte Madera last June.

“There were 10 to 11 colleges on his list,” said Kwentyn’s mother, La Tanya Wiggins.

When asked how you go from such promise to such pain, his mother said, “It’s the hardest thing to deal with. I have no idea how I keep going.”

Now Wiggins wears her son’s image around her neck and carries his image permanently on her left arm.

She did have his #11 home jersey, but gave it back to the team, where his best friend Peyton Mullarkey opened the season wearing it.

“We wanted his jersey out there for senior year,” Wiggins said. “We felt that we needed Peyton to wear that jersey.”

Mullarkey added, “He’s like our sixth man. Always with us.”

Bad luck intervened after a game in Oakland last month when someone broke into the Mullarkey family car and took the backpack containing that jersey.

“When we came back and saw that glass, my heart dropped,” he told us.

Getting that jersey back has become as important for the team and family as winning a championship. Branson High School had planned to retire it this year.

“You know, having a duplicate jersey is not the same as the one he sweated in, won a championship in, played with his team in,” Wiggins said.

Sports jerseys. Those of us who get attached to them do so because of feelings and memories. Their value transcends cloth and numbers. To the rest of the world, and probably the thief, it’s just like any other high school jersey.

In this case, friends and Wiggins want it back, no questions asked.

“It means everything,” she said. “It is absolutely priceless. It is one of a kind.”

As is every child.

Good luck finding a Joe Burrow jersey: LSU’s dream football season has merchandise flying off shelves

John Lett has been an LSU football fan for decades, ever since he moved from Missouri to Baton Rouge to get his degree from the college. And even though he’s seen some great Tiger teams that won college football national championships, he said he’s never seen anything like this year’s roster.

Because the Tigers have been so good this season, Lett said he’s been buying more purple and gold merchandise. He recently bought a new home in Ponchatoula, so he’s been decorating his “man cave” with LSU football gear.

“I don’t want to know how much I’ve spent this year,” he said. “For Christmas, I spent $700 on things for my wife, my five grandsons and my two daughters.”

LSU merchandise was a hot seller across Baton Rouge during the holidays. And those strong sales are expected to carry on into early 2020, with the Tigers facing Clemson in the College Football Championship game on January 13.

About 500 businesses are licensed with LSU to produce official products, ranging from T-shirts and caps to original artwork.

Brian Hommel, director of LSU Trademark Licensing, said the team’s 14-0 record has contributed to an increased demand for purple and gold items. But the exact size of that increase won’t be known for a while.

“At this time we are only one quarter into the current fiscal year and will not be able to compare our fall 19 sales and royalty data until early 2020,” Hommel said in an email.

In fiscal 2019, LSU generated $4.8 million in gross royalties from merchandise sales. In contrast, in 2011, the last time the team played in the college football championship game, gross royalties topped $5.6 million. And in 2007, the last time the Tigers won the national championship, gross royalties were $5.3 million, Hommel said.

The increased demand for LSU products has meant some items have been hard to find, such as replica jerseys for the Tiger’s Heisman trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow. Nike, which makes the officially licensed adult LSU jerseys, only produces one run of replicas that stores order a few months in advance of the season. Because no one could predict the record-breaking season Burrow would have this year, number 9 jerseys have been sold out.

“Those jersey items can’t be restocked,” said Patrick Wilkerson, who owns Bengals & Bandits, an LSU clothing store. “We get 30 calls a day from people looking for jerseys.”

Bengals & Bandits doesn’t carry licensed adult jerseys because it concentrates more on unique, retro items. But the store has been producing T-shirts that look like Burrow’s jersey. “Those are our big seller this year,” Wilkerson said.

At Tiger Mania, an LSU merchandise store near Interstate 12 and Drusilla Lane, manager Melana Barton said the biggest sellers have been anything with Burrow’s number 9 on it – such as T-shirts and caps. The store does custom embroidery, so they put the number on anything, she said.

Tiger Mania wasn’t able to get any officially licensed Heisman Trophy items, commemorating Burrow being named as the top player in college football. But the store did produce purple and gold caps that said “He is the Man”.

Barton took over management of Tiger Mania earlier in 2019. She said sales have increased 190% over the previous year because of LSU’s historic season.

“It’s been extremely good,” she said.

At Purple & Gold Sports Shop, a Siegen Lane store that specializes in LSU merchandise, co-owner Sara Sanders said this year’s sales are “blowing away” the business from previous years.

“We’re definitely seeing a higher volume of sales now than we have in years,” she said. “And while the season is normally coming to an end after Thanksgiving, it’s been starting all over again. We’re looking forward to a longer season than we typically have.”