At the beginning of the playoffs, NBA Top Shot gave away tickets to the NBA Finals. One such winner could not attend the game and asked if the Celtics community could help find worthy collectors to take their place. What followed is the wild adventure of a Top Shot collector from Denmark, TimeKillerDK.

How did you become involved with NBA Top Shot, and what do you enjoy most about the platform?

I was already into crypto, and I am a big fan of The Ringer, both their podcasts and the website. At some point in early 2021, I read an article about NBA Top Shot. Anyway, I thought it sounded interesting. I’ve never been a collector of anything, but it made more sense to me than just crypto, because this was something I actually knew something about. So, I slowly dipped my toes in around February 2021. But got really into it from the beginning of Season 3. What I enjoy most about the platform is the community side of it. Connecting with other NBA fans.

Can you share any standout moments or experiences you've had as a collector on NBA Top Shot? 

Winning a ticket for an NBA Finals game is obviously the moment that stands out. But that only happens because of the amazing community that exists on Discord. The other experience that stands out to me was when a fellow collector (and someone I had started considering a friend, even if we never met IRL) sadly passed away. Maknoj was someone I had been chatting with almost daily. Not just about Top Shot but about normal life and about the NBA obviously. He was someone who was always ready to help you when you were looking to trade for something. And to see how the community reacted and supported his family was something that really stood out to me. It has been more than a year now, but I still miss chatting with him. I guess I’m trying to say that the community feeling and the people you meet through Top Shot is what makes this so special.

How has being part of the NBA Top Shot community changed your basketball fandom? 

I’ve been an NBA fan since the 1986-87 season. Growing up in Denmark, it was impossible to watch it on TV. The only way to watch games was to have VHS tapes sent from a company in Switzerland. I had a weekly subscription where I would get the two best games of the previous week. Talk about tape delay! The games were about two weeks old when I got them. It wasn’t until the 1990-91 season that it became possible for me to watch live games via satellite dish from a German TV channel. Fortunately, they only spoke German during the breaks and then switched to the US commentators during the game. But to answer the question, NBA Top Shot has given me a forum where I can discuss the NBA much more than I could before. And with the addition of Fast Break, it has made it a lot more fun to watch otherwise irrelevant games, because maybe you need someone to reach a certain score. 

Have you ever attended an NBA game before? 

In 1990, my little sister was doing a year of high school in Tennessee as an exchange student. I went over to spend Christmas and New Year with her, and the Atlanta Hawks were the nearest team. We went to a game in December 1990 between the Hawks and the Warriors, two teams loaded with legends. Nique scored 45 points in that game, and RunTMC combined for 84 points for the Warriors. 

You live in Europe; what made you decide to make the trip all the way to Boston? 

Actually, the question should be, what made me decide to click the giveaway bot? I’m still not sure. I honestly thought, oh well—I never win anything anyway. But if I ever should win something, this would really be worth winning! Going to a Finals game is something that I have always considered completely unrealistic—not even realistic enough to make it to a Bucket list. 

I had kinda forgotten about the giveaway, and I was about to go to bed when I decided to just check out Discord. When I opened it, I could see that I had 2 mentions in the Celtics channel. The first one I found said, “TimekillerDK you are on the clock”. I was confused. So I scrolled up and saw that my name had been drawn for the giveaway of the tickets to the Finals. I am a very calm person. But at this point, my brain just completely froze and I was just in total disbelief. 

I ran upstairs to tell my girlfriend, who was already in bed. Then I wrote to Faldo, the team captain. He asked if I was able to go. I told him that I would do anything I could to go, but that I didn’t know how long it took to get the immigration papers sorted with Homeland Security. I started the process, and Faldo kindly agreed to be my contact in the US. Otherwise, my dream would have stopped there. 

It was already past midnight on Friday, but looking at flights made it clear that it would be best and cheapest to get a flight from Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday morning. But we were not ready to pay for flights without knowing if permission to enter the US would be granted. So I decided to stay up for another two hours, constantly refreshing the website, to see if my status would change. 

At almost exactly 90 minutes after I applied, the status changed to APPROVED. Again, I ran up the stairs to get my girlfriend out of bed and come help me book flights and a place to stay. There are no direct flights from Brussels to Boston, so I had to go via Amsterdam. The next flight out was at around 10:30 am Saturday morning. It was getting close to 2 am, and I still needed to find an Airbnb, because hotels were just too expensive for me. Fortunately, the AirBnB host confirmed my booking almost immediately. When I was finally done with everything I was too hyped to sleep, and I got up at 7 am to be sure to be at the airport at 8 am. This was for sure one of the most hectic experiences of my life, but I am super proud of having figured everything out and grateful for the support I instantly felt in the Boston Celtics’ Top Shot Discord channel. The joy for me was coming from everywhere. Suggestions and help were offered. Someone even transferred money to me and the other fan who won a ticket, to pay for our first drinks in the Arena.

Can you describe your emotions when you first walked into the arena? 

To be honest, it is very difficult for me to separate that from the rest of the adventure. Because the whole experience and the emotions it brought to me, started already on the flight from Amsterdam to Boston. I was obviously wearing some of my Celtics gear, a green hoodie with the Celtics logo, on the plane. The person across the aisle from me looks at me when I sit down and says “Go Celtics!”. So I smile and ask him if he is a fan too. He says that he is part of a group that shares season tickets. So yes – big fan. 

I tell him that I have won a ticket for Game 2 of the Finals and he is just super happy for me. For much of the flight, we talked about basketball. For the rest of my trip, until I get to the game, I constantly seem to meet people who are going to the game too. After spending the night in the AirBnB, I get up early to see as much of Boston as possible. 

It starts to feel like I’m just surrounded by people who are just as excited as me. And when they hear my story and how quickly I had to just go, they are all just super excited for me. During all this I have been contacted by a lot of the other collectors in the Celtics Discord channel. One of the team captains Andy_Mac32 writes me to ask if I would like to maybe meet Paul Pierce. That is obviously a big YES. Turns out he has an extra ticket to a pregame podcast recording, next door to the entrance to TD Garden.

After having lunch with Andy_Mac32 and getting to know each other, we go to the podcast they call The Truth Lounge. Turns out I didn’t just get to see Paul Pierce (2008 NBA Finals MVP). He had Rachel Nichols hosting the show and the guests were Cedric Maxwell (1981 NBA Finals MVP), Brian Scalabrine (2008 NBA Champion), Eddie House (2008 NBA Champion), and Jason Terry (2010 NBA Champion). 

Being a big fan of podcasts, this was really special to experience. And a great warmup for the actual game. When it ended I just had a very short walk to the arena where the doors had just been opened. I walked down as close to the court as I could, and I was happy to be at the end where the Celtics were warming up. Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and Payton Pritchard were all putting up shots while I was just standing there eyes wide open. Behind them towards mid-court I could see Shaq, Dennis Scott, Steve Smith, and Grant Hill doing their pregame show.

"Being so close to true legends of the game I love almost felt surreal"

I eventually went to my seat. I still hadn’t met the other person who won a ticket alongside me. So I started talking with the people in front of me. A father and son from Indianapolis who were also big Celtics fans. The son had bought the tickets as a Father's Day present to his dad. Finally, Brent arrived just before tip and the four of us became instant best friends. And we were on the aisle, so we could all stand up during the game without blocking the view of anybody. We were all too excited to sit down, so it was just perfect. The four of us even went out for drinks after the game and had the most fantastic time. 

What was the most memorable moment from Game 2 between the Celtics and Mavericks? 

There are several moments that really stood out to me. The biggest was probably when Payton Pritchard beat the buzzer of the 3rd quarter with a shot from midcourt. When it actually banked in off the backboard the whole arena just exploded. It also looked like it completely deflated the Mavericks.

In another span of 41 seconds, Jrue Holiday does everything possible to close the game. Pressures the ball for a turnover, hits a 3, pressures Kyrie to take a contested 3, gets an offensive rebound, and gets an assist for another 3. Takes the lead from 8 to 14 points and only 3:33 left of the game. That moment just stood out to me as exactly why I just love Jrue Holiday. 

Obviously, the block by D-White to stop the last run by Dallas was memorable too.

Finally, I want to say that seeing Luka Doncic was just incredible. His shot-making is impressive, but even more impressive is his passing. In the first half, he made an alley-oop pass to Derrick Jones Jr., and the timing and placement of the pass were like threading a needle. 

What was it like to witness the atmosphere and energy of an NBA Finals game in person? 

It was very similar to what I have experienced going to other amazing sports events. I was in the Camp Nou for a Champions League semi-final between FC Barcelona and Sevilla and an El Clasico match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Camp Nou holds 100,000 spectators, so the atmosphere there is also electric. 

The one thing that stands out to me about this NBA Finals experience was how loud it was and how many people you have never met before just become instant friends. The entire time I was in the US this time, I felt so welcomed. I felt that people really shared my excitement with me and wanted me to have the best time ever. And I truly did.

What advice would you give to other collectors? 

Join the communities that are on Top Shot. Be active in the communities (I haven’t been nearly as active as I want to be going forward). Share your experiences with your fellow collectors. And when you are as lucky as I have been to win this experience, give back to the community in any way you can.

"The true value of Top Shot to me, is all the people that you can get to know and that you can share amazing experiences with. I am strongly considering going to other events in the future"

Bonus Question: Did work know you went to the US?

Well… I found out I was going on Friday night and the game was Sunday night. So I didn’t really have time to ask permission to be off work on at least Monday, and as it turns out also Tuesday (I was just completely exhausted when I got back home on Tuesday morning). But as I was going through security in Brussels airport, and was getting ready to get my things that had been scanned, I noticed that just in front of me was one of my bosses who was going on vacation herself. So I waved to her, and she looked at me with complete disbelief. I told her and her boyfriend what I had won, and they were just thrilled for me and wished me a fantastic trip. 

When I got to Amsterdam, it was late enough for me to start calling people. So I called my closest colleague and told her the story. And then I wrote a message in our Teams chat for my team, so the rest of my colleagues would know on Monday morning. But the one I had talked with had already told everybody, so I was drowning in messages wishing me all the best and to make sure to enjoy it as much as possible. It is now Wednesday afternoon, and I am still feeling exhausted from all the things I experienced, but I’m back to work and life goes on… one huge experience richer.

Thank you NBA Top Shot!!!

If you would like more stories like this or have a community story you want to share, hit us up at Special thank you to the Top Shot community and Team Captains for making the NBA Finals special!