Back in 2004, part-ownership of an NBA team was called by MTV “the new hip-hop status symbol.” From Jay-Z (Nets) to Nelly (Bobcats) to Usher (Cavs), it seemed like one-named rappers were destined to join the Mark Cubans and Dan Gilberts of the world at the NBA roundtable. (I’m still hoping Magoo can scrape together enough paper to buy-in somewhere.) But unlike Mr. St. Lunatic and Mr. Raymond, Nets general manager Billy King says that Jay-Z’s role with the team is a very active one.
“I think a lot of those so-called guys that have parts of teams, they vanish,” said King at his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday. “There was one in Cleveland, what was his name? Usher. They haven’t seen him. I think Nelly in (Charlotte) — haven’t seen him. But Jay-Z, I think players see that it’s more of a passion for him, not just something he’s involved in.”
And that passion cost him $50,000 after visiting the Kentucky locker room after the Wildcats clinched a spot in the Final Four. The NBA called it “impermissible contact with collegiate players,” citing a rule that prohibits any team personnel from having contact with players who have not yet entered the NBA Draft. And maybe they were right. King also said that Hov is involved in basketball decisions.
“I send him emails, or relate, ‘What about this guy?’” said King. “But he is fully invested. Not just financially, but from the heart.”
Once the Nets move to Brooklyn, King and team owner Mikhail Prokhorov will really see the dividends that Jay-Z’s investment will pay. For example, King notes that he saw that passion first-hand while meeting with Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles over All-Star Weekend. And although they weren’t able to close the deal, Jay-Z isn’t just another guy in a suit.
“To see (Jay-Z) give a pitch on Brooklyn, and the passion about going to Brooklyn – you see it on tape, you see it on TV. To see him in a room with Carmelo, and making it, you see the passion there,” King said. “And if he’s as passionate about Brooklyn, I just can’t imagine what the other people that live there are going to be like when we get there. And to see him as involved and as passionate about the Nets, to me, it’s a real positive. It’s not just something that he’s just using, or investing in. It’s something that he’s going to be involved in even more when we get – next season, I think, even further, we go to Brooklyn.”
And once that move is made, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
What do you think?
Source: New York Daily News
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