Jay-Z owns a whopping .067 percent of the Brooklyn Nets. Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov? He owns more than 80 percent.
But it seems that Jay-Z is a key decision-maker within the organization, so much so that he actually made the call to go with black and white colors and designed the logo. And not just that, but he has his fingerprint on game operations, arena ameneties and a bunch of other things, as illustrated in this great New York Times piece:
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). 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.)
He even coached them on how to screen patrons for weapons without appearing too heavy-handed. (“Be mindful,” he advised oracularly, “and be sensitive.”)
The part about black and white uniforms is certainly strange, especially considering that there are multiple NBA teams that wear black uniforms (Spurs, Bulls, Heat, Celtics, Magic, Raptors, Blazers, Timberwolves and Kings).
That aside, what else has Jay-Z done as a minority owner of the Nets?
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.
The Brooklyn Nets essentially are the Brooklyn Hovas. The organization is taking full advantage of their tie to one of the world’s most famous rappers and making the Brooklyn Nets experience as much about Jay-Z as it is about Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
Plus there are things like the ad agency the Nets used — Translation — is half-owned by Jay-Z. And this fun nugget: After Vince Carter stunk it up in a Nets playoff game in 2007, Jay-Z gave him a little pep talk to which Carter responded with 37 points in the next game.
What he really does, most of all (besides making a wise call to cut Bon Jovi), is give the Nets a certain amount of cache, a new kind of credibility. He might own less than a percent of the team, but he’s a celebrity owner, a prominant face of the franchise. It’s like having a celebrity superfan, but one that’s a little more invested than most. Literally.