Last year former All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen found himself in a meeting with some of Nike's top lawyers.
Nelsen was with the sports apparel giant to discuss their interest in ".basketball", the top level domain name acquired by Nelsen's company Roar Domains, in conjunction with Basketball's world governing body FIBA.
The domain extension has been embraced by more than 50 of FIBA's member nations, including 2004 Olympic champions Argentina, former European champions Slovenia, Australia and New Zealand.
The Breakers were also early adopters, with RJ Hampton one of the first professional players to secure a personalised domain.
So surely Nike, with their massive basketball heritage and huge influence in the market, would be interested?
"They said they were interested in Nike.basketball, Converse.basketball, 23.basketball and some others," Nelsen told the Herald . "That was great, so I asked what they planned to do with them. They didn't know, and I said we would need to know."
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The discussion ended in a polite stalemate. Nike wanted to know the price to get the domain names into their portfolio, Nelsen and his company wanted to know the purpose before settling on a fee.
"It's probably the first time that they have said 'we will write you a cheque', and someone has ignored them," laughed Nelsen. "We might live to regret that."
It's a fascinating episode, but also an illustrative tale.
It shows the rarefied world that Nelsen and business partner Hamish Miller are operating in, since their audacious and hard-won bid for the generic top level domain names (gTLDs) .basketball and .rugby.
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They've had discussions with the NBA — that are ongoing — and successful negotiations with some of the biggest rugby brands, including the Springboks, Wallabies, All Blacks and England rugby, as well as Sanzaar and World Rugby.
But they have also taken their stewardship role seriously; they entered partnerships with World Rugby and FIBA, and want to ensure that the domain names are used by the sporting community.
"You can have it, but need to use it," said Nelsen of their approach. "It's about being part of the community and if you are not going to do that, we'll hold it ourselves, because we are not one of those guys, like all the other 'domainers'. We will just keep chipping away."
Other major sporting TLDs (.football, .golf, .tennis etc) mostly ended up in the hands of Wall Street-backed web companies, largely mass market domain resellers with no allegiance to sporting bodies.
Such companies will generally sell names to any interested bidder thereby opening the door to domain squatters and speculators.
It means there is little online presence of TLD's for those sports, unlike the basketball and rugby sphere.
Three of the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams have opted for .rugby, along with all the Australian franchises.
In March New Zealand Rugby switched to www.newzealand.rugby as their primary domain and provincial.rugby also went live, while there are numerous other national member associations who have made the switch.
The UK's Pro 14 competition recently followed Sanzaar's lead (changing to pro14.rugby) and the English Rugby Premiership is expected to follow suit.
"There are still so many rugby or basketball entities that haven't been exposed to this but we have come a long way," said Miller. "There are only two major sports in the world that can do what we are doing — rugby and basketball. We're building a digital legacy for two global codes which is pretty cool".
It has been far from straightforward. While winning the rights to the two gTLDs was a long and costly battle (they spent an estimated $4 million), that was just the beginning.
They had to overcome the stigma attached with 'domainers', built up by case studies down the years of domain name speculators.
Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney had to purchase Rooney.com from a squatter for a five figure fee, while an investor wanted to charge New Zealand Basketball a substantial amount for TallBlacks.com (they refused).
"I don't like that approach," said Miller. "If a team or athlete has worked their butt off to build up a brand, it just seems wrong that a speculator can come along and squat on their domain name and hold them to ransom."
Miller recounts one of their first meetings with Sanzaar, as they extolled the virtues of a .rugby community.
"They were wary at first, but you could feel the atmosphere and body language change as we explained our vision" said Miller. "They were a bit fearful that we were just more domainers.
"They couldn't believe it when we said we'd give them Super.Rugby for free for the first year if they used it as their primary domain, then $75 per year after that. After World Rugby, they were the next major stakeholder to adopt and the word of mouth that has spread since then."
At times both Nelsen and Miller — whose friendship goes back almost two decades – have to pinch themselves.
Their idea started from a conversation about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global guardian of internet domains, who had announced that they were going to increase the available portfolio of generic top level domain names in 2011.
It was a major step, as since 1996 only .com, .org, .gov, .net, .edu, .mil, .int and .co, as well as the accepted country abbreviations (.nz, .au etc) were available, and it set the tech world buzzing.
Nelsen and Miller saw opportunities in sport and their first target was football.
They flew to Zurich twice to present the idea, but were eventually told that FIFA weren't interested in a partnership.
Cricket was, but the International Cricket Council got cold feet at the eleventh hour, while golf also changed tack after a promising beginning .
It means that plenty of potentially iconic names — Lords.cricket, St Andrews.golf, Brazil.football — are in the hands of unknown speculators.
That's not the case with rugby and basketball, with both World Rugby and FIBA keen on the concept since first being approached by Nelsen and Miller in 2010.
"Sometimes I wonder what we have done," said Miller. "It's like we saw a couple of ocean liners out in the harbour and decided to swim out and see if we could drag them into port. We almost drowned a couple of times but somehow managed to do it and now the world's rugby and basketball communities are jumping onboard."
Their venture was highly ambitious, and they managed to thwart some mega-funded operations (one of their competitors for .basketball had another 307 applications for other gTLDs, at US$185,000 each), mainly because they emphasised the partnership with the global governing bodies.
But it hasn't all been plain sailing, and their top down approach, while successful in attracting the big stakeholders, hasn't filtered down to the masses as fast as expected, but they are hopeful that will change.
They've since re-branded to be.rugby and be.basketball, and are about to drive initiatives to increase mass market awareness at the consumer level.
Like every business, there will be a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, but Nelsen says their venture is future-proofed.
"Sometimes we wonder what the hell we got into," said Nelsen. "It's definitely a legacy-type thing. As long as the internet doesn't go away, this won't be going away.
"Domain names will always be an integral part of internet infrastructure and we are seeing category specific domains rapidly taking hold. We have stuck to our guns and that has been the right play."
"We have got every conceivable name and number for dot rugby and dot basketball, sitting in a virtual warehouse," said Miller. "And when you take the time to explain it, people get it."
"The Blues rugby franchise is a great example. We suggested that theblues.co.nz could mean different things to different people. Is it 'I'm feeling the blues, I'm listening to the blues, or a site for the colour blue? They got it immediately. Their domain blues.rugby clearly defines who they are and what they do. It's pretty simple."