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.