Game recognize game.
How else could you explain rap legend Jay Z’s adeptness at taking ownership of yet another industry in such record-setting fashion? The man who once famously boasted to all of Hip Hop Nation “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man” is now essentially airing his video to the world in the form of his foray into the sports agency biz and his revolutionary creation of Roc Nation Sports.
And it’s hardly rates as a collaboration. Quite the contrary, in fact, as practically everyone who resonates as anyone as a player agent has lined up in opposition to the new voice in the arena. Nowhere has that resistance been more vocalized than in the case of Scott Boras, the one-time wunderkind agent who recently condescendingly chastised the wide-ranging mogul with the taunt “it’s very different to be the creator of the umbrella versus those who stand under it.”
No matter how Boras and others championing his view choose to trumpet their take on the relationship Jay entered into the CAA Agency he partnered with in launching Roc Nation, the hook is the hook.
Translation? Hova’s representation of Robinson Cano, the former New York Yankees star infielder who bolted Boras to join Roc Nation, instantly made him seem cooler by virtue of his association with Beyonce’s husband to the point of being able to secure an extra $40 million in guaranteed salary no one else ever, ever foresaw for him, all the while making his new Seattle Mariners team feel recently relevant enough to its targeted audience to justify such an overly extravagant expenditure.
Let’s face it, Jigga’s a lot of faces to a lot of people, but when it comes to the game of swag and showmanship he’s easily identifiable as the P.J. Barnum of his time.
I’ll go out on a limb here and assure you that Roc Nation will not become what its predecessor, Master P’s No Limit Sports, remains ridiculed for being. Don’t expect Cano, Kevin Durant, Victor Cruz, Geno Smith or even Skylar Diggins, for that matter — all newly minted Roc Nation clients — to appear dressed for any magazine covers wearing a wedding dress, ala signature No Limit client Ricky Williams’ yesteryear ESPN close up.
And you can be further assured they’ll almost certainly be more comparisons to the $240 million record-setting contract Hov’s’ now revered for striking for Cano than the incentive-laden, seven-year, $68 million deal No Limit continues to be disgraced for netting in the case of Williams.
All of which makes Jay so much more dangerously of a wildcard to the establishment with such events as the NBA and NFL Draft on the horizon, where the likes of such potential game-changing talents as Jadeveon Clowney, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle are all expected to be in play.
Truth be told, you can’t stop Jay, you can only hope to contain him — or as the recent trend has proven perhaps censor him. A band of certified agents came together in May to complain long and loud enough to spark an investigation of his recruitment of Smith, hoping his alleged violation of the league’s “runner rule” would surely stop him in his tracks.
But, alas the best laid players can often times go awry. Word on the street is 6-foot-6, 274 pound man-child that is Clowney has already sought out Hov for his potential guidance and it seems more than a fair bet to wager that more top players will be checking for Jigga than vice versa.
The reality is Jay Z provides ballers with a profile no other player rep can come close to matching, not to mention a rags to riches blueprint to follow few other advisers can ever dream of emulating.
The game is forever changed by Hova’s presence, and those who have played it the longest and most profitably best understand that.
Or as one agent recently told SI “every agent with high-profile players, especially ones in New York, is showering those guys with service right now.”