One of the funniest things in free agency is when teams bring in celebrities to help with their pitches. It’s almost like they’re saying, “Basketball is important, but also we have these famous people who like our team and we think you’ll like it if they like you, so sign with us.” Not surprisingly, athletes love this stuff. You never hear someone complaining that too many big names were brought in to praise the free agent in question.
But it doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the team can be so bad that having one of the world’s biggest celebs doesn’t make a difference, like when Jay-Z was recruiting for the Nets in 2010. And sometimes, a celeb just doesn’t make a difference, like when Fat Joe pitched a couple All-Star point guards on becoming New York Knicks. From the New York Times:
Q. The Knicks asked you to help recruit Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and you’ve been vocal in trying to lure other free agents to New York. Give us your best sales pitch.
A. “Listen, man, even though it’s been a while since we’ve won in the playoffs, you can come here, to the greatest city on earth, under the brightest lights, in the greatest arena on earth, and kick some butt and be the man. It’s like Frank Sinatra sang: if you make it here, you make it anywhere, baby. If you’re the king of this team right here, you’re the biggest person on earth; I don’t care what anyone says.”
Q. Who were some of the players that got away?
A. Chris Paul and Tony Parker, for sure. I went after both of them hard. “We really need you; we want you here.” I was trying. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
Hey, Fat Joseph nailed it – “Sometimes it just doesn’t work.” You know, like when you tell a bunch of youngsters a Frank Sinatra quote while trying to sell them on your favorite team. Sometimes, even when you are a well-respected but marginally famous rapper, you can’t convince a point guard to sign with the Knicks. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. (There is also the small matter of neither Tony Parker nor Chris Paul ever having hit free agency, but as New Yorkers say all the time to everyone about everything, fuhgeddaboudit.)
But that’s not all from this Q&A, folks. Fatty Joey also has the story of the greatest Rucker game that never was.
Q. You were a longtime coach at the Entertainers Basketball Classic tournament at Rucker Park in Harlem. And in 2003, your team was set to play Jay-Z’s team in the championship game. But the game never occurred. Can you explain?
A. I had been successful at Rucker for years. I would take the summer off to coach and run a team out there, and then Jay brought a team to Harlem that summer, with Beyoncé in the stands watching. And his team was smacking down everyone they played, so it was inevitable for our two teams to meet in the championship game. On his team for that game, he had Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford. I countered and brought in Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Al Harrington, Mike Bibby, Carmelo, Amar’e, Zach Randolph and Rafer Alston. I had a crew, and he had a crew, and we were about to go at it. And then the blackout hit New York City, so the game was canceled. The next day, the power came back, and the game was rescheduled. And Jay’s team didn’t show up. They forfeited the championship.
Q. Have you ever asked him about it?
A. Never again. I haven’t even talked to Jay-Z again after that incident.
Oh snap peas. Not only is tonight’s Knicks-Nets game the first since the big Brooklyn move, there might also be a showdown for this very, very slowly bubbling underground rap beef. Will Jay-Z and Fat Joe finally speak to each other? Who will scream the first adlib? Will they both wear Yankees hats? There’s only one way to find out besides looking at the internet tomorrow.