In case you hadn’t heard, 2013 was a record year for Jay Z’s sports ventures. He sold his stake of the Brooklyn Nets and became a certified NBA, NFL and MLB agent, pissing off almost the entire sports representation world in the process.
Take a look at our lengthy interview with Jay Z biographer Zack O’Malley Greenburg for some better perspective on why he’s made some of the moves he’s made. We’re not just saying this because we did the article.
So Happy Birthday Shawn Carter. Here, we break down Jay Z’s brashest, most savvy moves in the sports industry just because.
10. He signed Kevin Durant: In a new interview with CBS Sports’ James Brown, Kevin Durant told Brown that he’s tired of hearing he’s No. 2. “People would just always say that it’s cool, ‘You’re top three, that’s cool. That’s good to be there. It’s alright to be a top-three player in the world … I mean, I’m just tired of settling for that, tired of saying that, tired of hearing it,” he tells Brown in a forthcoming interview on 60 Minutes Sports. Durant is at the top of his game, and yet his humility and expectation of excellence will undoubtedly mean good news for Jay Z, Roc Nation attorney Kim Miale and the good people at Roc Nation. He may be in a small market, but Durant’s loyalty and basketball-first mentality makes him one of the most marketable athletes on the planet.
9. He suggested that he could make the Yankees hat more famous than the Yankees could. If we’re being frank, this was bombast at its finest. In one of his biggest hits to date, “Empire State of Mind,” he very deftly rhymed about his influence on one of sports’ most iconic brands. Even if he didn’t believe it himself, he sure did sound like he did. What can you say? Jay Z is maybe why you see the Yankees logo from the Bronx to Boise, Brooklyn and beyond.
8. He said he will not lose. Ever. The driving, sinister beat of Jay Z’s “U Don’t Know” ends with a haughty declaration: “I. Will. Not. Lose. Ever.” And with a phrase we can’t write on this family website, he ended one of his best songs, produced by the talented and underrated Just Blaze. Losing is something athletes despise, and by suggesting that Jay Z doesn’t lose is to add yet another wrinkle to his already winning resume. Even if he doesn’t win in all of his business dealings — and Forbes’ Zack O’Malley Greenburg will be the first to tell you that he does not — the illusion that there is an alternative, more personal narrative makes for compelling music.
7. He asked to be reminded about what fifty grand meant to him. Truth is, we can’t state this explanation better than a reader over at Rap Genius: Balling hard equals a rough foul every now and again. The actual ballers of the NBA have been cracking down lately and handing out large fines, one of them to Jay-Z. He was fined by the NBA for visiting the Kentucky Wildcats locker room. NBA employees (Hov is, as he often brags, a minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets) are not allowed to communicate with players who aren’t draft eligible.
What athlete doesn’t love a powerful agent?
6. He married Beyonce. This has next to nothing to do with sports. But when you can take BEYONCE to upgraaaaaade you just to complement the deal in the big meeting for the mills… okay, like, that’s JUST NOT FAIR. AT ALL.
5. He told Scott Boras he was over, baby! So what, Scott Boras got a 30-year-old outfielder whose offensive and defensive game relies on speed a seven-year deal worth $153 million? Jay Z responded to wide criticism that he had no business being a sports agent (hello, Jason Whitlock) by suggesting that he was going to take over the sports agent world. Boras can still feed his family, we’re sure. But it was a savvy move on the mic, hyperbole in the highest order.