The Trail Blazers Announce the NBA’s First Partnership With a Cryptocurrency Company

Starting next season, players will wear patches bearing the logo of Seattle-based StormX on their jerseys during games.

It’s been quite a week for the Portland Trail Blazers, and depending on how you feel about cryptocurrency, the news either got slightly less bad or even more annoying.

This morning, the team announced a new jersey sponsorship deal with Seattle-based cryptocurrency startup StormX. Starting next season, players will wear patches bearing the company’s logo during games, replacing Biofreeze, the pain reliever brand the franchise has been aligned with since the 2018-19 season. It’s the first such partnership with a crypto company in the NBA.

StormX will also be the Blazers’ “exclusive blockchain partner,” according to a press release. Please don’t ask us to explain what that means.

“StormX is a fresh, energetic company with Pacific Northwest roots that can educate and motivate Rip City around cryptocurrency and earning Crypto Cashback,” Blazers president Chris McGowan said in a statement, presumably while wearing a backward baseball cap with a skateboard slung over his shoulder.

So what exactly is StormX? It’s effectively a cash-back rewards program that pays out in crypto. Here’s how GeekWire explains it:

“Founded in 2015, StormX operates a platform that lets users earn cryptocurrency rewards when they shop at one of more than 750 stores. It also has its own token called STMX that has a market value of $209 million.

StormX makes money off transaction fees when their users make purchases from their partner brands.

StormX’s app has more than 3 million downloads and has paid out more than $4 million in rewards to date.”

On the one hand, the tech-bro associations of anything crypto-related probably isn’t going to generate too much enthusiasm in a fan base already feeling increasingly alienated from the team due to recent front office decisions. But at least the company has local ties: CEO and co-founder Simon Yu is a Portland native and longtime Blazers fan. Also, according to Yu, StormX is the first Asian American-owned company to be a jersey partner with an NBA team. So that’s cool.

Next month, StormX will also help the Blazers launch its first nonfungible token based on the team’s nationally recognized Gameday Poster Series, in case you want to know you own a really rad piece of art but not, like, display it anywhere you or anyone else can enjoy it.

Whether this convinces Damian Lillard to stick around a while longer remains to be seen.