Truth be told, I think we’ve all been a little confused about what Jay-Z’s exact role with the Brooklyn Nets has been since he bought in to the franchise nine years ago. There were rumors that he designed the Nets’ new logo, but it turned out he kind of just hired a guy and gave some input. We know he’s been somehow involved in recruiting all the free agents the Nets have missed out on signing and that he helped Deron Williams find a cool place to live in order to retain the team’s point guard. It’s also assumed he was the guy who was in charge of picking the rap lyrics to go on some Nets shirts because he seems like he’d be great at that.
Other than that, it’s all guessing, even at how much of the Nets he actually owns. Thankfully, the New York Times delved in to the ins and outs of Jay’s ownership to let us know exactly what Shawn Carter’s role is, not to mention that he only owns a hilariously small one-fifteenth of one percent of the team (literally 0.067 percent) after a million dollar investment way back when. So without further ado, here’s what Jay-Z actually does for the Nets.
HE OPENS THE BARCLAY CENTER
Now, with the long-delayed Barclays Center arena nearing opening night in September and the Nets bidding in earnest for Brooklyn’s loyalties, Jay-Z will perform eight sold-out shows to kick things off.
We’ve known this for a long time, but I have to imagine it’d still be pretty fun to see a sold-out Jay-Z show in Brooklyn. Especially if Mikhail Prokhorov gets on stage.
HE CAMPAIGNS FOR ALL-BLACK-AND-WHITE EVERYTHING
He helped design the team logos and choose the team’s stark black-and-white color scheme, and personally appealed to National Basketball Association officials to drop their objections to it (the N.B.A., according to a person with knowledge of the discussion, thought that African-American athletes did not look good on TV in black, an assertion that a league spokesman adamantly denied).
As previously mentioned, “helped design” is a bit of a misnomer, unless he has computer drafting skills we’re unaware of. Nonetheless, OK, that’s the story, so that’s fine.
The second half of that though, that Jay was instrumental in getting the league to approve the Nets’ new color scheme, is pretty weird. Maybe he did campaign on behalf of the colors, but I’m pretty sure all he’d have to say is “Have you seen the Spurs, Heat, Bulls, Kings, Raptors, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Magic?” If that really, really happened, the discussions must have been pretty quick.
HE PICKS MUSIC FOR THE ARENA
He counseled arena executives on what kind of music to play during games. (“Less Jersey,” he urged, pushing niche artists like Santigold over old favorites like Bon Jovi.)
Smart. Not for picking Santigold, because whatever, but for saying no to Bon Jovi. Good man, that Jay-Z.
HE IMPLEMENTS SECURITY PROTOCOLS
He even coached them on how to screen patrons for weapons without appearing too heavy-handed. (“Be mindful,” he advised oracularly, “and be sensitive.”)
As long as he did it oracularly, that’s cool. Only oracularly though. Any other way, weird.
As much as his partners, including Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who bought 80 percent of the team in 2009, are getting out of him, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, is benefiting handsomely, too, beginning with free use of one of 11 exclusive “Vault” suites, for which paying customers are charged $550,000 a year.
Just to reiterate: $1 million investment, free use of a $550,000 a suite. There are perks to getting in on the ground floor.
HE DOUBLES UP
Suite owners will have access to a Champagne bar serving Armand de Brignac, an expensive bubbly that Mr. Carter promotes and in which he holds a financial interest, according to a biography by a writer for Forbes. The arena will contain a 40/40 Club, an iteration of his sports-bar-style nightclub chain. There will be a Rocawear store, selling his clothing line, on the arena’s exterior. Even the advertising agency used by the Nets, Translation, is half-owned by Mr. Carter.
Oh, so not only does he get the suite, he also gets all of his various business interests in to the Barclay Center? This is the definition of smartening up and then opening the market up. One million, two million, three million four, in just five years, everything you buy in the Barclay Center will make Jay-Z money.
HE MAKES BAD PERSONNEL DECISIONS
He also made himself useful to the basketball staff, persuading Shareef Abdur-Rahim of the Portland Trail Blazers to accept a 2005 trade to the Nets (an injury scuttled the deal) [...]
After the trade fell through, Shareef Abdur-Rahim played 158 games over three seasons, which comprised the three worst seasons of his career. This is like when he signed Amil.
HE GIVES GREAT PEP TALKS
[...] and giving Vince Carter a pep talk after he played poorly in two playoff games in 2007 (he responded with 37 points in the next game).
Wait. So this is what it would have taken for Vince Carter to be motivated, pep talks from Jay-Z? That’s it? Way to waste a career.
HE BAILS WHEN THE TEAM SUCKS
But the rap star pulled back from the Nets as their fortunes faded and they failed to make the playoffs after the 2007-8 season. “He’s very brand-conscious,” a Nets official said.
It was only after the Barclays Center had cleared all hurdles in December 2009 that Mr. Carter unabashedly stepped forward.
Hahaha. I like that this anonymous Nets official actually sounds OK with Jay-Z abandoning the Nets when they were terrible. Even they understand why a star of his stature wouldn’t want to be associated with a team like that. Hopefully they’re never bad again — like they have been for a majority of time they’ve been an NBA team — or else he might ditch out again. Ask Memphis Bleek how that feels.
HE GETS PEOPLE INTERESTED
Aaron Goodwin, an agent who has represented many young players who became N.B.A. stars, said Mr. Carter’s involvement had improved the image of the Nets in athletes’ eyes. “They’re going to take the phone call now,” he said. “They’re going to take the flight in. They’re going to listen. In years past, the Nets wouldn’t have gotten that. But now they’re in the game.”
This is seriously the main reason Jay-Z is important to the Nets — he makes them cool. What player who’s coming in to the league doesn’t know Jay-Z? Everyone does. That’s big.
HE WATCHES THINGS
“He said he was watching ESPN,” Mr. Yormark said, “and the size of our logo was too big, because the word Brooklyn was getting cut off on the ticker at the bottom of the screen. He said, ‘Call ESPN and get them to fix it.’ And he was right. And then they fixed it.”
When Mr. Yormark next sat down for a meeting with Mr. Carter, he recalled, the rap star reminded him of this, saying: “Brett, I’m watching. And every detail matters.”
Considering he ghostwrote Dr. Dre’s “The Watcher,” this makes so much sense. He just loves to watch stuff. That’s something we have in common.
Go read the whole article because there’s a bunch more good stuff in there, like details about Jay-Z having to explain to David Stern the time he stabbed a record executive. Very fun read, plus it’s neat to know that Jay-Z actually has things to do when he’s around the Nets. I thought he mostly just ate fancy dinners with Mikhail Prokhorov, so it’s good to know there’s more to it.