The Brooklyn Nets have two owners in the limelight. There's Mikhail Prokhorov, the whimsical Russian strongman, and then there's Jay-Z, the tenured Brooklyn rapper. Prokhorov has all the big nickel-mining money, so he owns 80 percent of the team. And Hova? He owns one-fifteenth of a percent of the thing. [Corrected to fix an earlier typo.] Does that stop him from calling the shots and dictating how the Nets will rise in Brooklyn? Nope, explains David Halbfinger in today's New York Times:
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.")
Halbfinger explains how Jay-Z's involvement with Brooklyn ought to serve as a model for other sports teams looking to involve celebrity part-owners, and he's right about that. Now that they're in Brooklyn, Jay-Z shouldn't have a hard time making them seem less Nets-y. (Yes, he's been involved with the team during the last few years, where they were plenty Nets-y, but come on—not even Jay-Z can make anyone proud of Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw.)
But Halbfinger's story also includes this unwittingly sage bit:
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.
This is what it's like to go to a pro game now. It's like going to a mall, except that they replaced the fountains and plastic flora in the atrium with a basketball court and a handful of players. Jay-Z gets this, and he'll happily profit from it. He's making the Nets less Nets-y, but he's making basketball less basketball-y, too.