In what is probably the worst kept secret in the sports business, Jay-Z is selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets so he can become a full-time sports agent. Jay-Z is not the first entertainer to own a piece of a sports franchise, nor is he the first rapper to become an agent, but based on his track record he will probably be the most successful. Jay-Z has leveraged his small investment in the Nets into great opportunities for himself and the Roc Nation brand. With his tenure as a sports owner coming to a close, here is a look at five great brand building decisions Jay-Z has made as owner of the Nets.
Five Great Moves Jay-Z Made as Nets Owner
5. Opening the Barclays Center
When Jay-Z became the first artist to perform at the Barclays Center, it established the venue as his home court. It wasn’t about selling tickets to a concert, Jay-Z could sell out a concert on the moon, it was more about reinforcing the notion that the Barclays is the house that Hov built.
4. Designing the Nets Uniforms
When it was revealed that Jay-Z designed the Nets black and white color scheme and logo, the reviews were mixed. There were even rumors that NBA Commissioner David Stern hated the uniforms. But like most things, all that matters is the bottom line, and the bottom line is that Nets merchandise has been a top seller at NBA.com and the NBA Store.
3. The Billboard
The billboard with Mikhail Prokhorov-put up in 2010, a two years before the Nets would officially move to Brooklyn-was a warning shot to the Knicks and a proclamation to New York City that the Nets are here. The most compelling part is that Executive Shawn Carter is positioned as the dominant figure in the picture while Prokhorov (who owns 80% of the team) looks like his sidekick. Plus, the text “The Blueprint for Greatness” is clearly a play on the title of three of Jay-Z’s albums. This enhanced Jay-Z’s brand and that he is a driving force behind the Nets move to Brooklyn.
2. Signing on as Executive Producer of NBA 2K13
Maybe 2K Sports picks Jay-Z as executive producer for NBA 2K13 even if he wasn’t a team owner. But, it definitely didn’t hurt. However, more than just being a cool name on the box, Jay-Z flexed his clout and added real value to the best basketball simulation on the market. Not only did he get U2 to grant permission for the use of the song “Elevation” for the game, Jay-Z helped the make the Dream Team feature on the game a reality, calling Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen directly to get their blessing to use their image. This year NBA 2K13 out-sold its previous first week high by 49%.
1. Partnering with Creative Arts Agency
Jay-Z’s decision to sell his share of the Nets and enter the sports representation business has been met with some skepticism in the industry. Veteran agents have pointed out his lack of experience and the potential conflict of interests he may run into since he is an entertainer himself. These are valid points, but in partnering with CAA, Jay-Z has the infrastructure he needs to overcome his lack of experience. The fact that he was able to get Robinson Cano, the one of the best hitters in baseball playing for one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, to leave Scott Boras to join an agency that didn’t exist, speaks volumes.