The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has announced the launch of a metaverse experience in partnership with MeetKai.

The NBPA metaverse experience debuted on 15 February, opening to fans across the world and coinciding with the upcoming All-Star Weekend. Fans can expect an immersive experience “unlike anything before”, offering exclusive access to players, merchandise, contests, and more.

James Kaplan, MeetKai’s Co-Founder and CEO, commented: “At MeetKai, we’ve had the tremendous honour of developing the inaugural metaverse venture for NBPA, enabling fans to connect with their beloved athletes in unprecedented ways.

“Teaming up with the forward-thinking team at THINK450, is a perfect partnership as we look forward to continuing to collaborate on interactive shopping journeys that deepens the bond between fans and the sport they cherish.”

This technology builds upon the NBA and WNBA’s partnership with Meta last year, which saw the tech company become the leagues’ official VR headset provider and offered fans ‘shared watching experiences’.

Throughout its launch week, the NBPA metaverse will unveil a collection of exclusive daily merchandise drops, featuring brands associated with NBPA members, also known as “F.I.R.E brands.” These offerings will be complemented by items from The Sanctuary capsule, a performance line formerly exclusive to players. 

Furthermore, fans will have the opportunity to engage in virtual meet-and-greets with NBPA members like President CJ McCollum, allowing them to interact with their avatars, take selfies, and ask real-time questions.

Weili Dai, Co-Founder and Executive Chairwoman of MeetKai, stated: “I’m extremely proud of our team at MeetKai and what we’ve accomplished for NBPA. 

“Collaborating with the NBPA is both: another beam of our leadership as the world-leading AI metaverse company, and a natural extension for us, after building metaverse worlds for NBA and NFL teams and millions of other sports fans around the world.”

A notable highlight of the NBPA metaverse is the digital representation of ‘The Brotherhood Deli’, an immersive fan experience originally showcased at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas during the summer of 2023.

MeetKai utilises its cutting-edge technology to create the virtual store, which offers player-endorsed brands and exclusive items. 

In addition, fans can personalise avatars, interact with NBPA members, and virtually try on apparel before purchasing products that can be sent directly to their homes’ via shipping.

Keisha Wright, SVP of Partnerships & Purpose at THINK450, remarked: “We are very excited about this partnership with MeetKai to launch The Brotherhood Deli into the metaverse.

“Since its inception last summer, The Brotherhood Deli has been designed as a platform to build community around our players’ passions as entrepreneurs and leaders of their own brands. By bringing The Brotherhood Deli into the metaverse, we are broadening our reach and supporting the connectivity between our players and basketball fans worldwide.”

Ahead of All-Star weekend in Indianapolis, fans in the Indianapolis area will have an exclusive chance to visit ‘The Brotherhood Deli’ physically at Circle Centre Mall. 

This experience is said to offer a “unique opportunity” to step into the real-world setting that inspired the virtual realm of the NBPA metaverse, creating a meta-on-meta encounter. 

The pop-up shop will feature the same exclusive merchandise available in the virtual space, allowing fans to purchase items in person.

Dai concluded: “We hope they enjoy this experience as much as we’ve enjoyed making it a reality and we look forward to ‘The Brotherhood Deli’ as only the beginning of a very successful, long-term partnership. 

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