De’Aaron Fox, the starting point guard of the much-maligned Sacramento Kings — a franchise that hasn’t reached the playoffs for 15 straight seasons — has apparently found a new way to invoke the public’s ire: NFTs.
A project, started with Fox’s wife and a development team called “Swipa The Fox” – a nod to his Dora the Explorer-themed nickname – has all but stalled, leaving thousands of investors to hold the bag. Fox announced the suspension of the project on Twitter:
“I want to address an NFT project that we started recently. The launch of the project was inopportune. I delegated certain aspects to the launch of the NFT in an attempt to partner with professionals. We weren’t happy with the execution and the demand for my time and attention during the NBA season… They deserve my full attention. As I said before, I look forward to starting over in a good way and adding value to my NFT holders. I’m also excited to learn from the entire NFT community. The draft will be updated at the end of the NBA season.
Contribution contacted Fox and the Kings for comment, but did not receive a response.
Disgruntled supporters, who helped Fox’s project rack up an estimated $1.3 million (or 522.95 ETH), fell back on a Discord server set up to cultivate interest around the initiative, voicing their frustrations – a mixture of anger, disbelief and conscious resignation.
“The more I learned about NFTs, the more I realized there were bad signs in this project, and I actually warned a bunch of people before the mods started getting aggressive with me,” said said urucollector.crypto, a Discord user who was part of the community who acquired 13 NFTs for around 1.85 ETH, or $4,844.
“Since the mint, you could tell the management team — who are the people who run the show, hired by Fox — were having a hard time keeping the community happy because the price floor started to drop significantly and people were willing to sell well below what they initially paid.”
There were two drops planned, one on January 11involving a more limited pre-sale then a second on January 13, which was more widely available. During the first drop, Discord members gained early access to a variety of Fox avatars known as profile picture NFTs (PFPs) through a process called whitelisting. The entire collection of 6,005 PFPs sold, with prices ranging from 0.07 (whitelisted price) to 0.085 ETH, or roughly $183.28 to $222.56.
Just two days later, the second drop, or what was called the art drop, started and five more NFTs, dubbed “Stories”, were released. This collection was essentially a handful of prestige GIFs, and fans who purchased them received “Superfan” status, which gave them additional NFT history and additional community benefits. The “stories” ranged from 0.12 to 0.3 ETH or around $314 to $785. At the time of publication, the stories are still available on OpenSea.
“This is De’Aaron Fox, he makes $28 million a year, he’s never Quit anything in his life, he was the fifth pick in the draft, he’s a guy you can believe in!‘”
After the minting process, things took a nosedive according to Matt McMullen, a New Orleans-based NFT collector who had purchased 17 NFT PFPs and 6 “Stories.”
“A few hours from the mint [the NFT collection] was a third of the cost… people were worried about the floor price, and now I feel like an asshole but I was one of the guys from [the Discord] saying ‘this is De’Aaron Fox, he makes $28 million a year, he never gave up in his life. He was the fifth pick in the draft, he’s a guy you can trust!‘”
What started as a drop in the perceived value or floor price of the project quickly turned into a set of increasingly distant moderators that circumvented the timeline of the NFT roadmap. By now, a metaverse plot containing virtual basketball courts allowing users to compete against each other using their PFPs should have been underway.
The person in charge of developing “Swipa Island” in the virtual space was also ghosted after putting in hours of work. Destorian Demigod, an Unreal Engine developer who makes games in the metaverse and spends @Destoria_NFT on Twitter, says Fox and his team never showed any real commitment to following the first step of their roadmap.
“I was approached to create Swipa Island in the metaverse…so we talked about the dynamics of what Fox was looking for inside the island,” he said.
“I put the courts in my game trailer to show it was real and reinforce that we were working. I thought it would speed up the checkout process, but of course no money would ever get to me. poured in. It was about five weeks of nothing.
“Swipa Island” was just the first promise of a long list of supposed utilities the project had to offer – many of the splashiest NFT launches now include a more immersive experience that sometimes gives investors access to a community and real benefits. Some of the project’s pledges included tickets to NBA games, Kings merchandise, five scholarships to the University of Kentucky (Fox’s alma mater), and even opportunities to interact with Fox in the lead- one-on-one, i.e. if users were willing to shell out an additional 0.3 ETH, which was around $936 at the time.
The successful completion of the project’s roadmap looked bleak heading into February, but moderators urged the community to “be patient”, stressing that the project was “Dee’s business. [De’Aaron Fox] baby.” In mid-February, one of the main moderators known as “Quick” abruptly cut ties with the initiative for unknown reasons. Two weeks later, De’Aaron Fox would follow suit, announcing his departure in the Discord.
Everything about the situation points to a textbook rug pull, which is a polite way of describing a scenario in which the founders of NFT fundraise for their project only to abruptly pull out, while draining most, if not all, of the funds. . Records show that approximately 474.34 ETH or $1,241,973 was withdrawn from the project just two days after the strike, on January 15, leaving approximately 48 ETH or $125,679 for the continuation of a roadmap that does not did not materialize. The funds were transferred between a number of crypto wallets, which makes them difficult to trace.
As a result of the draw, all social media accounts associated with the “Swipa The Fox” NFT Collection have been disabled or made private. The hosting site was also wiped from the internet, along with the official chat history of Discord, which by early January had amassed 100,000 users (although that number was suspected to be inflated by bots) . Fox has also disabled comments for all of its personal social accounts.
As for compensating the community for the NFTs it owns, which are virtually worthless now that there’s no official support behind the project, Fox had a vague plan for reparations. This plan only extends to a handful of investors who have achieved “Super Fan” status by purchasing the five most expensive “Story” NFTs. Fox said he would “repurchase all five NFTs and also take community funds to buy jerseys, so he can sign and then send them back to the right people.” Keep in mind that the people affected in this case represent about 3% of the total number of people who joined the project.
Matt says Fox did reimburse some of the damages, but at a cost.
“He actually refunded me this morning for five of my ‘stories’ but I had to list them on OpenSea and pay him a 10% and 2% OpenSea royalty. We got the money back, which is better than most people got, but still saved 10% on the deal!
Right now, it looks like around 2,000 investors will end up with the proverbial bag. As a result of it all, Fox cited lack of time as one of the reasons the draft fell apart, as the current NBA season “stretched too far.”
It remains to be seen how the borderline star will attempt to right the ship once the season is over, but Sacramento Kings radio reporter Sean Cunningham provided an update after last night’s game against the Denver Nuggets:
“I actually had a few minutes to talk to Fox off camera to hear his side of things,” Cunningham wrote on Discord.
“He told me he would be willing to sit down with me in the future to discuss in detail what had happened and his plans for the future, as well as how to do things. correctly.”