As Wilson Chandler tells it, despite being a NBA star with a decade-plus pro career and nearly $80 million in career earnings, the 6’8 combo forward still got his start in blockchain the same way scores of enthusiasts do: trading shitcoins.
Chandler told Cointelegraph that he first heard about crypto from some “kids” he played Fortnite with in 2017. After growing fascinated by their stories of turning paltry sums into legitimate holdings, he eventually invited one out to his Chicago home for a crash-course on setting up wallets and using exchanges.
From there, the record is all on-chain: per a look at his Etherscan address, his early investment strategy was little more than spray-and-pray.
“From there I bought coins — Bitcoin, ETH, Stellar — bunch of shit just playing around, learning. Lost a bunch of coins doing silly stuff like pump and dump companies, not knowing any better.”
Like many degens-in-development, he relied on a network of friends for information. As he recounted on a recent episode of NFT collector podcast Club Top Shot, he had one enthusiastic buddy talk him into a pump-and-dump scheme based out of Amsterdam — a scam that cost him a significant Bitcoin position. The friend? The late, legendary rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle.
“I think about that shit all the time,” he said, laughing.
However, he told Cointelegraph that those early stumbles have now paved a path to what may well end up being a second act for the former star.
“Experience is the best teacher they say.”
Second acts and sneaker deals
As a basketball player, Chandler’s resume is stellar. For years he could be relied on for strong 13-5-2 stat lines, primarily playing for scrappy Denver teams that twice made the playoffs — including an all-time great hipster team in the “Knuggets,” the collection of Nuggets and Knicks players assembled in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
However, signs pointing towards the end of Chandler’s playing days. He’s been on three teams the past three years, opted out of the “bubble” playoffs last year, and most recently played for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions — a stop in China that can often signal a last hurrah for a pro player. While he’s said in interviews that he had offers on the table from NBA teams, including playoff contenders this year, he is ultimately looking towards retirement.
If some of his recent investments are any indication, crypto and NFT collecting could play a major role in whatever comes next for the former star. In addition to opening a medical marijuana dispensary, he’s starting to become a savvy NFT collector and is working to enmesh himself into the space.
Last month he revealed that he had become a proud CryptoPunk owner, changing his avatar to one of the staggeringly expensive collections of pixels. It was a surreal moment for many longtime NFT collectors, and a source of validation for those aficionados who held out hope for mainstream adoption in the thick of an ugly bear market.
— Wilson Chandler (@wilsonchandler) April 10, 2021
Just a few weeks later, he announced a neat, possibly first-ever “digital shoe deal” in collaboration with NFT company CryptoKickers. Basketball stars inking shoe deals with major brands is nothing new, but CryptoKickers designs one-of-one streetwear-inspired shoes for virtual worlds like Cryptovoxels and The Sandbox — a use case that major fashion and apparel brands have long had their eye on. For the time being, Chandler now has the best virtual ‘gear’ of any NBA player in the Metaverse.
Currently, however, his true passion is Zed Run. The Polygon-based collectible horse racing and breeding game has attracted significant attention due to rising popularity and the eye-watering sums rare, ‘genesis’ breed horses can fetch for collectors and racers. For Chandler, the social and educational elements are what drew him in.
“It’s a fun way to learn the space, get out there, explore, engage the communities. Fuck, I can breed and race digital horses and talk shit with friends and meet new friends. It’s just fun overall the entire space. And that interaction and engagement sometimes leads to new opportunities and other things that I may find just as fun and profitable.”
Helping him learn the ropes are some high-powered, largely unnamed whales who he’s met through chatrooms and networking. Like many traders and collectors, he’s discovered that private communities are an ideal way to corner ‘alpha,’ and he’s even gotten in on some fractionalized ownership deals for rare horses — including a horse…
Read More: Wilson Chandler on NFTs and the NBA