It's his Pasture

Okay, what's getting lost in this whole LeBron James/Russian tycoon/global tycoon synergy is WHERE THE FUCK JAY FITS IN. For pure spurts and puddles, read Woj's column on Mikhail Prokhorov, which will leave you thinking that Prokhorov is hard (of course), his money questionable (it's Russian), and his grand entrance into the lobby of a NYC hotel nothing short of a Jay-Z video.

Incidental, you say? Did Sean fail, since his token ownership stake failed to get the Nets relocated, or generate that much buzz? What about this: Even if the man mattered very little in this particular case, it's his influence that allows James and Prokhorov to make so much sense together. His presence in this deal may add some residual cred, and make it pop a little more, but it's more a lifetime achievement award. Remember, Jay was the first to take the hustle all the way into the boardroom, and make the boardroom respect it. Forget the kingpin fantasies that made our favorite music. That was the old totem; Jay saw a way to really leverage street smarts, and street branding, in a way that brought him real power.

Is he still the figurehead he once was? No matter what you think of the new joint, the answer is no. He's closer and closer to Russell Simmons everyday. That is, less and less involved in any real manipulation of what we might term "gangter capital." Gangsters by themselves are business rubes, at least once they try and enter the halls of legal money. Capital of all kinds is synonymous with selling out, exactly the reason why anyone trying to be the Next Jordan has to tread lightly: Jordan could get away with anything, and even he ended up a corporatized shell on the public stage.

I believe in the power of music. I believe that Jay-Z inspired a generation to believe that there was no shame in trying to clean up a little and invest back in ventures that didn't have to choose between profit and legitimacy. He made a seamless transition from fake drug kingpin (is mafia even lower than this?), to vague wealthy and influential baller with skeletons in the closet, to the nexus of the board room and the streets in a way that worked for everyone. LeBron wants to be like Jay, not Mike; this Russian fellow finds himself with instant credibility because of the pioneering work done by the man without a pen. When the photo opp happens, he needs to symbolically bless the handshake, because it might be his greatest legacy.

(You try and tell me how "My President is Black" fits in here.)

In other news, I am positively baffled by Flip's "Arenas will have the ball more than eighty percent of the time because we're scrapping Princeton". Isn't that an awful lot already? I know that Butler and the other guards did touch it sometimes, and that Arenas's quickness/quick release means he doesn't stand around so much. But I just don't see how this does anything to encourage a change in Gil's game, or the team's complexion. It's not like he was being denied his touches or discouraged from attacking before. This is what happens when Ziller or Kevin Pelton aren't online early.

Update: Maybe he meant "I want him to control the ball and run the offense, not just fire away or attack." But the comment was about % of the time Gil has the ball, not how patient he is.

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At 9/24/2009 7:53 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

"This Russian fellow finds himself with instant credibility because of the pioneering work done by the man without a pen."

If this means what I think it means, it probably doesn't do justice to the significant differences between underground economy in the U.S. and Russia. Whether that matters or not in the context of the minds of the actors (namely the white old-boys club) involved is up in the air, but I suspect that they too understand the differences between empires built by car bombing journalists and turf owned by slinging crack rock.

In a symbolic sense I think you're right, but I question how much power symbols have in board rooms where the kings of kapitalism (hadn't seen a good JR Swish joke in forever) push around big stacks--the kind of stacks Jay-Z hadn't been able to pull together for the past few years.

At 9/25/2009 5:45 AM, Blogger oscar said...

If this means they won't be called the Brooklyn Hovas, it will be disappointing.

At 9/25/2009 9:12 AM, Blogger W2 said...

Being something of a communist-school teacher -pacifist-pussy, I don't even know what to think about all this global-hip hop-KGB-LeBron-wanna buy a tank business. Hoops wise If it means Sabonis on the court in a suit giving Brook Lopez and LBJ tips about posting up then I am interested.

Will this presence from the East speed up the process of advertising on jerseys? How much weight does this guy have? What isn't for sale?

Mos def I am rooting for the the Wiz to regain form as the legit version of the Warriors or the East Coast Elders to Durant's Okies.

Can the season start already!

At 9/25/2009 11:47 AM, Blogger Kyle said...

As much as it would be fun to believe Jay has ever had much power in this forum, it's just not true. While I will give him credit for being at the forefront of the "celebrity-buying-a-minority-share" fad (see: Usher and the Cavs, the entire Miami Dolphins ownership structure), S. Carter only helped in the marketing dept.

He wanted to look like a power player, even though Ratner calls all the shots. I'm sure there are numerous other investors who own just as much of the Nets as Jay does who will also have little to no say in any consequential matter regarding the team. That's why no one who knows the game has ever truly believed that LeBron will end up a Net and why Atlantic Yards is still just a bunch of drawings.

At 9/25/2009 11:52 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I'm not saying Jay has any real power. He has symbolic value and marketing oomph. And this marriage of Bron and a Russian tycoon is like the epilogue of his entire (imagined) career in and out of music—one that he himself can only begin to imagine for himself.

At 9/25/2009 12:02 PM, Blogger Kyle said...

"And this marriage of Bron and a Russian tycoon is like the epilogue of his entire (imagined) career in and out of music—one that he himself can only begin to imagine for himself."

I agree with this, and find it interesting because I have always enjoyed this part of Jay's image.

And to clarify my earlier post, I didn't mean LeBron will never be a Net, but more that the Jay connection won't be the reason why.

In that same vein though, I've always been curious as to why Jay is courtside at so many Knick games. If he really believed/wanted to portray that he was the king of the boardroom, wouldn't he push his product, and his product alone?

At 9/25/2009 4:50 PM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

- From what i read the team is being sold for 250M which is underwater from a few years back....no way Ratner is not getting his on this so I'm guessing he is squeezing it out on the real estate side. So is it possible that minority shareholders could take a hit on the deal? ...jay being played like stringer bell?
(Just speculation...no hard facts to back this up....anyone have?)

- Russian oligarchs buy sports team to 'safe harbor' money. They saw what happened to Khodorkovsky. But no way the Kremlin can repo a public asset like Chelsea or the Nets.

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