Hibbertcoin: The story behind the NBA’s first currency

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In the 2014 NBA playoffs, when Indiana Pacers 7’2″ all-star center Roy Hibbert’s stat line was showing 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 blocks, a Chinese blogger from Hupu.com had the sudden idea to create a currency value based on Hibbert. The currency was named ‘Hibbertcoin’.

An established 7’2″ player in the NBA will always carry value, that is for certain. So when the ‘Hibbertcoin’ was created, the Hupu blogger who goes by the online ID name ‘SmithKobe’ broke it down like this.

“Take ‘1 Asik = 5 Hibberts’ as international norms, David West = 7 Hibberts, George Hill = 4 Hibberts, Paul George = 10 Hibberts, Scola = 3 Hibberts, etc etc. The Hibbert-net-worth of the Indiana Pacers is 46 Hibberts. Let’s see who we can get with this much Hibberts.”

Thanks to Hupu.com editor Evan Wang (@wangyifan314) I was able to track down ‘SmithKobe’ and ask him a few questions about the current status of Hibbertcoins. ‘SmithKobe’, who introduced himself as ‘Rain’, started the conversation by giving credit to the community at Hupu who contributed to the idea, “It’s not just me. A lot of Hupuers JRs (we’ll get to that later) contributed to this. I’m just the man who made the definition and gathered all the geniuses together.”

Hibbert currency is very popular on NBA Reddit. Anytime an NBA redditor talks about Hibbert, the word Hibbertcoin is always mentioned. When you started this idea, did you ever think it would become this popular?

(Rain) At first, I thought it would become popular in Hupu, or even in the whole Internet in China. Because in Hupu we create about 15 new popular words per year. But I did not expect Hibbertcoin to go this far.I’m a little proud to be honest.

If I bought Hibbertcoins during last year’s playoffs, are my Hibbertcoins now worth more or worth less or have remained the same?

(Rain) Absolutely up! The time you bought Hibbertcoins was the lowest price time. 0 pts,0 rebs,0 blks! Think about that, you can be a millionaire now. But I suggest you not buy Hibbertcoins now, because it’s so unstable.

In the original article on Hupu, this photo was included at the end of the post. Can you explain exactly what is going on here?

Asik Hibbertcoins

(Rain) The ref was saying “5 Hibbertcoins” as he checks Asik’s power level. and Asik says “damn, it’s that low?”

Hupu and NBA Reddit have a lot of similarities. Hupuers and NBA Redditers all have a strong understanding of the NBA and back it up with a great sense of humour. So lets imagine there was an NBA finals for NBA forums. Hupu is biggest in China and NBA Reddit is the biggest in America. If there was a seven game NBA Internet Forums Finals series, who would win; Hupu or NBA Reddit? What are your advantages.

(Rain) I appreciate your praise to HUPU. Actually we are not called as Hupuers. We are call JRs. JR means贱人(bitch/badass). We are as humorous as Redditers. We are as erudite as Redditers. It’s 2:2.

2-2? But it’s a best-of-seven series… and don’t forget, Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson is a regular NBA Redditor. How can you stop that? So if the NBA Redditors’ best weapon is Lawson, what’s JR 贱人 best weapon?

(Rain) Haha We have Yao! Yao is browsing hupu everyday i think. he has a lv.22 ID. Source: 程杭 the owner of hupu. We can be more salty/ironical(vague words) but less dirty talk than redditors. I don’t know if it’s good or not. Because irony sometimes can make more damages to others so it’s another 1:1 I think. We are less civil and rational than redditors 0:1 . We lose.

Speaking of Yao, you mentioned in the article that in the NBA there is dying breed of dominant bigs. You also say that Hibbert is the black Yao. If Yao was the last dominating big of the NBA, then how many Hibbertcoins does it take to buy one YaoCoin?

(Rain) To me, I would never sell one YaoCoin for any Hibbertcoins lol. YaoCoin must be priceless. Never! except maybe Lebroncoin…

What happens to Hibbertcoins when Hibbert retires? Does the Hibbertcoin die? Does the Hibbertcoin bank go bankrupt?

(Rain) Ironically, Hibbertcoin has already been dead in Hupu. It’s a very entertaining thing in my opinion, but this is a little sarcastic that Hibbertcoins has been somehow a forbidden word in Hupu. Because this is too overflowed that it has become abused in hupu and this idea offended a lot of Pacers homers. But I think Hibbertcoins will never ever die in the world! It’s a great thing to break linguistic and cultural barriers that makes us realize we are one world! I love the relationship between HUPU and Reddit, hope we can get more close!

Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of Basketballbuddha.com.

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