NBA champion and eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard has known many successes in his storied 20-year career. This weekend, however, the basketball icon had a taste of bitter failure—on the mean streets of crypto. 

Late last week, with little preceding fanfare, Howard—who last played in the NBA in 2022—abruptly announced that he was launching a collection of 3,000 NFTs on the Avalanche network. 

“This is Dwight Howard from [the] NBA,” the veteran athlete wrote. “See you this weekend on-chain.”

Days later, the 3,000-piece profile picture (PFP) collection, “Ballers by Dwight Howard,” debuted to miserable results. The NFTs, which each cost 2 AVAX to mint (roughly $60 at writing), attracted only a handful of buyers. After a day, barely 10% of the collection had been sold. 


Times had clearly changed since the 2021/2022 heyday of celebrity-backed NFT collections flying off the shelves. The result was clearly not what Howard expected; the NBA star immediately attempted to pivot and salvage the situation. 

Less than 24 hours after the collection opened for minting, Howard announced that, in light of widespread public backlash at the collection’s art quality and underlying value, Ballers would be undergoing a substantial redesign.


The former All-Star center attempted to lure more collectors by pledging that every time 100 additional Baller NFTs were minted, he would personally send 1 AVAX (about $30) to ten different Ballers holders. Additionally, Howard also committed to buying an NFT from the popular Dokyoworld project for every 100 Ballers NFTs minted, in an apparent attempt to encourage that NFT community to support Ballers’ success. 

Shortly thereafter, Howard slashed the total supply of Ballers NFTs from 3,000 to 1,500. Howard has since tweeted that he's "leaning, building, and evolving."

The tactics, apparently, failed to help much. At writing, 457 Ballers NFTs have been minted so far, amounting to roughly 15% of the original supply. Further, the collection’s floor price has fallen to 1.735 AVAX, below the project’s mint price—a kiss of death for struggling new NFT collections. 

On Sunday, the negative buzz surrounding Ballers grew loud enough that representatives of Ava Labs, the company behind the Avalanche network, felt the need to step in and distance themselves from the project. 

“We at Ava Labs had no involvement with [Ballers],” Jake Cvengros, a business development executive at Ava Labs, wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Gone are the days that individuals/brands with large followings can just drop IP related NFTs out of nowhere and expect it to do well.”

Decrypt reached out to Cvengros regarding any subsequent conversations between Howard and Ava Labs, but did not immediately receive a response. Howard also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Edited by Andrew Hayward

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