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Collecting the Chronology of Top Shot: Game Recognize Game

Yo, it’s KD!

One of the more infamous tag lines we have throughout the history of Top Shot, from the infamous e-mail announcing Kevin Durant’s partnership with Top Shot and the eventual first Game Recognize Game drop.  Quite honestly, I can’t believe KD took the time to write each and every one of us that personal e-mail, but I appreciate him for it.

Joking aside, that KD partnership sent in a strong bull run revival in a period that was slow on Top Shot.  We had the commercial airing over social media, strong content tie ins with the video of Durant buying on the marketplace and finally a real product differentiator to stick it to all of those people who said "I can just go watch these things on YouTube."  Game Recognize Game was a set that we should still be getting today, because it rolls up everything the product needed to be in concept.  We had moments picked and curated by two of the biggest names in the NBA – Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.  We had a strong set of players, in a small volume set.  Most importantly, we had commentary from the players on the clips themselves.  Take that YouTubers!  Is that the end all be all?  Of course not, but it showed the product continuing to evolve in ways other collectibles could not.

Let’s start with what worked with GRG.  The concept itself that superstar NBA players hand picked moments to be curated into a set on NBA Top Shot is absolutely outstanding.  The thought of KD and Klay being engaged with the Top Shot team, sifting through moments and players they respect to put this set together; that’s special.  Was that reality?  Maybe, maybe not, but more on that later.  This felt like a true partnership with star players.  Something we had been dying for as collectors on the platform.  Give us something to show the NBA cares about Top Shot.  Once we get through the collaboration and partnerships, we come back to the player commentary.  KD and Klay breaking down the plays, going over why they like the plays/players they selected; that felt cool.  Mind you there is no way to know on the marketplace a moment has a voiceover commentary, but I digress.  That ability to overlay the player commentary on a digital collectible is such a nice touch and a real differentiator for the product that traditional cardboard can not do.  It is a unique pairing you can not find on YouTube (obviously unless someone uploads the video of the TS moment).  Personally, I love listening to players break down the game.  They see things, know things and play at such a higher mental state of the game; having that basketball insight on the video moments is what I feel like a part of the future of digital collectibles should be.  This concept and this set felt unique and special.

The GRG Drop Flop  At one of the peaks of intrigue in the actual product and one of Top Shot’s finest hours in partnering with Kevin Durant, an all-time legend, we could not have had a bigger flop on the drops.  We had multiple issues, including packs with multiple legendary moments.  We had the rumblings the whole drop had been front loaded with the legendary moments being all in the first packs in the que (on top of multiples in packs).  We had several drop reschedules, all to still have issues with the pack collation.  We had accusations of “whale packs” where certain big TS spenders were getting hooked up with legendaries in their packs.  This may have been the single biggest point where some of the user base lost trust in the true randomization of Top Shot.  I’ll put the disclaimer since this is on the CnC blog, that opinion is my own, but we had such momentum only to turn it into one of the bigger let downs we had in a drop.  This was also during the loot pack era, where all packs were basically chasers and leading mostly to negative returns.  The top notch job that was done with the marketing, the partnership and the concept that was Game Recognize Game wound up being for basically nothing in the end.  Last personal opinion, I do wish the moments felt more “special.”  I doubt we had KD and Klay pouring over film to curate this, but do think they had some involvement somewhere. I just wish GRG had some more "memorable" moments in the end.

Where does that leave GRG in the Top Shot story?  As of now, we have not heard any plans to revive the set in the future, but I’m hopeful one day it does make a comeback.  I’d like to see it maybe more with players who have a more natural gravitation towards the product or NFT/crypto realms (hello Cole Anthony or Tyrese Haliburton).  Even if the star power is lesser than KD and Klay, a more energized/authentic set and commentary would be welcome.  I would also put it as a rare tier to add to the special feel of the unique concept.  I know in S3 we were minting to the moon, but we have come back to earth here in 2023-2024.  As for the existing GRG moments, you can pick them up fairly cheap on the marketplace.  Even the KD reward floats between $5-$7.  For under $30 for the full set, this is a pretty cool set to add to the collection, if for nothing else, the unique player commentary adding to the viewing experience on the moments.  Watch you moments people!  I think Game Recognize Game is one of those common sets we may end up remembering with a “what could have been,” that maybe needs a fresh coat of paint today to reach it’s full potential as a staple on Top Shot.

Until next time, tell more stories, watch more moments and we ride at dawn!


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