Rap mogul Jay-Z, who was instrumental in bringing the NBA's Nets from New Jersey to Brooklyn, is preparing to dust his shoulders hands of the team so he can expand his new sports management business into basketball.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the rapper has begun divesting his stake in the Nets so he can focus on his fledgling Roc Nation Sports group, a newly-launched division of his Roc Nation media empire. NBA rules prohibit anyone with ownership ties to a team from also representing individual players.
The goal is to be totally separated from the Nets by June, sources told Yahoo. That timing is calculated to coincide with June's NBA draft, when the potential superstars of the future will be in need of representation for the first time in their professional careers.
However, this does not mean Jay-Z will become an agent himself.
"Much like the arrangement with CAA's baseball side, Jay-Z will let the firm's basketball agents handle contract negotiations and day-to-day business with athletes," says Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, who broke the news of the pending separation. "The potential impact will come with athletes linking to Jay-Z's global reach in marketing, entertainment and business."
Jay-Z owns a minuscule 0.067 percent stake — or 1/15th of one percent — in the NBA team he helped deliver to his native borough. According to ESPN, that means his share of the team is worth about $350,000. Yet with his enormous star power, Jay-Z quickly became the face of the franchise, much like Magic Johnson has with the Los Angeles Dodgers despite owning just 2.3 percent of that team.
Here's Deadspin's Barry Petchesky on that point:
His Nets union was as fruitful as it was short-lived: despite his small stake, he's become the public and commercial face of the team. The black jerseys? His design. The Barclays Center contains a 40/40 club, a Rocawear store, and its luxury suites carry Armond de Brignac champagne. Even without actual ownership, Brooklyn remains his team — and both his and the Nets' brands are better off for it. [Deadspin]
Jay-Z is hardly the first celebrity to make a leap into the sports world. As Forbes' Lance Madden points out, stars from Donald Trump to 50 Cent have used their clout to promote their own sports ventures.
This is way past George Foreman and his grill. It goes beyond Billy Crystal hitting for the Yankees during spring training. This is about redefining the way resources are used and expanding individual titles. It's about a Sports Management MBA course at the metaphorical College for Celebrities. [Forbes]
Last week, Jay-Z announced that he'd partnered with CAA Sports to launch his new sports representation agency. In a sign of how powerful that agency could become, he simultaneously announced his first client: New York Yankees All-Star Robinson Cano, who defected from baseball's premier power broker, Scott Boras. Cano is in the final season of his current contract, and is expected to command a huge deal come this offseason.