Earlier this year, Shaquille O’Neal narrated a commercial where Steph Curry dressed as a mime, made his own pasta, and sculpted a Bored Ape out of ice. Curry was paid in equity from cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which filed for bankruptcy last week after it had mishandled billions in customer funds, and its own token, FTT, plummeted in value. That equity is now worth very little.
It turns out FTX wasn’t made up of crypto experts either.
Curry isn’t the only one in the NBA affected by FTX going down, nor the only person in the Warriors organization. The Miami Heat signed a 19-year naming rights deal with FTX for their arena, a deal that’s now off. The Golden State Warriors have an international deal with the crypto exchange, but paused all promotions with FTX and pulled all arena advertisements. The last promotion was Monday’s Jordan Poole FTX bobblehead, which becomes a collector’s item next to the ill-fated Antwan Jamison Enron rubber ducky giveaway and Bobby Sura Poster Night presented by Webvan.
The Warriors’ deal with FTX was worth upwards of $10 million, basically the luxury tax on Patrick Baldwin Junior’s contract, thanks to the repeater penalty. They will also stop selling NFTs on FTX’s marketplace, bad news for anyone who desperately wanted to spend six figures on a hologram of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The team did make $2 million from a round of NFT sales in 2021, roughly what it costs to rent a Chase Center suite with a butler and a wine cellar. The Warriors and FTX also donated one bitcoin to three different charitable organizations, and let’s hope they cashed those in immediately.
Now the Warriors have been named in a class-action suit against FTX and its “ambassadors,” a group that includes Curry, Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, Shaquille O’Neal, and Shohei Ohtani. The suit accuses them of luring unsophisticated investors into a fraudulent scheme. We can’t speak to the soundness of the case except to say that it’s unfair to include Shaq here, since everyone knows he’ll endorse anything. If Shaq tricked you into FTX, then you should take that up with your insurance provider, The General.
Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala may have taken a hit from the crypto crash as well.
I’m excited to announce I’m taking part of my salary in BITCOIN w. Cash App! Bitcoin is the future, @klaythompson and I are both believers. To make bitcoin more accessible, we're giving out $1M in bitcoin back to fans today. Drop your $cashtag w. #PaidInBitcoin & follow @CashApp— andre (@andre) January 10, 2022
It’s not clear how much of their salaries Thompson and Iguodala took in Bitcoin, but the cryptocurrency has lost 60% of its value since that tweet. That $1 million giveaway would be worth $395,861.34 today.
Perhaps Joe Lacob truly was light years ahead, and made a deal with the NBA to pay the luxury tax in Bitcoin too! Meanwhile, the team will have to make up their crypto deficit somehow, just like the Lakers are likely to need a new arena sponsor that isn’t Crypto.com, who paid $700 million for a twenty-year deal and is now laying off half its employees. As Matt Damon says, “Fortune favors the brave!” Of course the guy who made the original quotation, Pliny the Elder, said “Fortune favors the bold” before sailing off to investigate the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. He died.