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.


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 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 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 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.


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 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.


[...] 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.


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.


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 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.

Comments (26)

  1. great reference to the song u don’t know. nice article interesting to see what exactly hov does with the team

    • Jay-Z is so ugly and un-charismatic, if it weren’t for him kissing Obama’s ass, and Obama using him to get the young vote, this big nosed retard would still be making sh!tty rap CD’s that NO ONE cares about. Have you seen his pathetic Letterman appearences? He should wear a sign on his head that says I’m an idiot, but I’m black so have me on.

  2. Just for clarification, Jay-Z’s graphic designer was the one created the logos.

    Also, he helped design interior spaces at the arena.

  3. what do you do besides spout puerile drivel?

  4. Facs, if you hate everything, why do you read it hahaha

  5. He paid a million for a 1/15th percent stake? So a 1% stake is 15 million? The Nets are worth 1.5 billion dollars? Who knew?

  6. Jay Z sucks! The music industry sucks. Jay z is a miley cyrus , or justin bleber creation , for wanna be wanksters . Not me and that shit…… To be a Raptor fan you must be disciplined with pain , suffering, and patience to truly appreciate victory…….

  7. he paid $1 million for shares in 2003 when the team was worth $244million. In 2010 the team was worth $312 million. He got a discount on his shares and they were worth $4million when he got them. correct me if im wrong but if the value of the team price went up from 2003 could his initial steak actually go up? Yeah the team is no where close to being worth $15 billion. The Russian investor bought an 80% steak for $293 million. Anyways none of Jay-z’s actual steak in the team has ever been disclosed so it would be impossible for the NY times or any other publication to get an actual figure of how much of the team he actually owns. You can only assume from what the team was worth when he bought it, what he invested, and how much the team is worth today. You also have to consider the fact that celebrities get deep discounts on stock prices so its rumored that he got a steak worth $4 million for only $1 million

    • I think you mean “stake”, not “steak”. However, I’m totally not opposed to the most delicious form of beef going up…

      I can’t believe Mikhail only got 80% of a steak for $293 mil though. Geez, that must have been an AMAZING slice of meat.

  8. I thought Jay z ghost wrote for still d.r.e., not the watcher (which I though was speculated to be ghost wrote by eninem)…

    • yeah I was just going to say that too.. I think there’s been a bit of controversy back and forth but the Watcher just sounds like an Eminem song. and Jay-Z definitely wrote the lyrics for Still D.R.E., Snoop and a bunch of people have talked about it

    • NNM vs. MNM…that should help clear things up a bit if you ever have trouble remembering which one it is.

      • Pretty sure The Watcher is Jay-Z. For one, that’s the main rumor on the internet. For two, lyrics that were in this song showed up in The Takeover. For three, Jay did The Watcher 2 with Dre. Probably not a coincidence.

        Also, as Dan says, Jay definitely wrote Still DRE.

        • ASCAP and WIKIPEDIA are your friends. Also, alternatively, any cover of 2001. But I know you’re all lazy and present you with the research results:

          THE WATCHER
          Work ID:530534100
          ISWC: T0716530312

          I doubt WPs claim of Nas as a writer but am not perfectly sure that’s right. But what’s ghost writing if you get the credits. If it’s ghost written the note is WRITER UNKNOWN like Foxy’s If I …, no?

          • Eminem gets ASCAP credit for writing The Watcher because he did the hook. Ghostwriters aren’t always on ASCAP, because they’re ghostwriters.

            For instance, Nas isn’t on the “Gettin Jiggy wit It” or “Miami” ASCAPs even though he wrote both of them.

          • I guess both jay z & em both have been there & done that. That settels it, he has snaps because he steals raps.

            Nas should have kept getting jiggy & welcome to Miami.

  9. African-american athletes looking bad in black, interesting….. Good thing that the Spurs looked bad for all those titles hahahah

  10. I prefer 100% steak… at all times.

    80% steak is for suckers.

  11. Good job alienating Bon Jovi fans. JayZ is a little green monster w/ no important contribution to society.

  12. I’m pretty sure Yahoo just plagiarized this same article!–rapper-rewrites-celebrity-investors%E2%80%99-playbook.html

    Posted this morning on Yahoo front page, fyi.

  13. ecoming a successful ghostwriter demands two things: discretion and the ability to work quickly based on someone else’s outline. Ghostwriting may not be the most creatively satisfying opportunity in the general field of freelance writing. Many writers don’t like slapping someone else’s name on their words; however, freelance ghostwriting can pay well, and can provide you with some much needed income and networking contacts during lean phases of your writing career.-;

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