Victor Cruz signs with Jay-Z’s sports agency

Victor-Cruz-GiantsJay-Z is building an empire. Actually, Jay-Z has already built more than an empire. He has now turned his focus toward adding some of the biggest names in sports to his realm. On Tuesday, Robinson Cano announced that he had fired agent Scott Boras and signed with Roc Nation, which has paired with Creative Artists Agency to begin representing athletes. Victor Cruz is joining them.

According to the NY Post, the New York Giants wide receiver signed with Jay-Z’s sports agency on Wednesday. Last season, Cruz incorporated Jay-Z’s diamond-shaped “Roc” symbol into his touchdown routine, which makes a lot more sense now.

Unlike Cano, Cruz did not have to fire his current agent to sign with Roc Nation Sports. Cruz’s agent Tom Condon is already affiliated with CAA, so his deal with Jay-Z is expected to have more of an impact on endorsement deals than his football contract. The Giants have put a first-round tender on Cruz, meaning they would receive a first-round pick for him if another team offers the 26-year-old a contract New York chooses not to match.

As the Post speculated, Cruz’s decision to sign with Jay-Z’s agency could actually be good news for the Giants. Jay-Z has tremendous influence in New York and the surrounding area, so it probably would have no benefit to Cruz from an endorsement standpoint to leave New York. Eli Manning is certainly hoping that is the case.

Robinson Cano reportedly fires Scott Boras, signs with Jay-Z’s company

Robinson Cano Jay-Z

Jay-Z is reportedly set to extend his reach even further across the world of professional sports, and it looks like the first superstar player to help him do that will be New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.

According to ESPNNewYork.com, Cano fired agent Scott Boras on Tuesday to join Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s entertainment company that is breaking into the sports representation business through a partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

“At this point in my career, I am ready to take a more active role in my endeavors on and off the field,” Cano said in a statement. “I am confident that the pairing of Roc Nation Sports and CAA Sports will be essential in helping me accomplish my short and long-term goals. I am making this important decision now so I can keep my focus on helping the Yankees succeed in 2013, while minimizing any distractions for me and my teammates.”

The Yankees made Cano a contract offer earlier this winter, but the two sides have not appeared to gain any ground. We all know Boras loves making sure his superstar clients test free agency no matter what offer they receive from their current team, so it will be interesting to see if Cano’s representation switch changes any of that.

Sources also told ESPNNewYork.com that Jay-Z himself plans to become a certified agent. He is reportedly planning to start with baseball and eventually take on clients from basketball and football. However, representing basketball players would require Jay-Z to give up his share of the Brooklyn Nets. Roc Nation, which represents artists like Rihanna, Shakira and Timbaland, is expected to eventually branch away from CAA and start its own sports agency division called Roc Nation Sports.

This will obviously give people like Scott Boras and other smaller agents some major competition if Jay-Z has success with Cano. Star power makes a signifcant difference, and Roc Nation already has plenty of that. It would also mean Jay-Z will have to be even more careful about doing stuff like this.

Photo credit: Twitter/Robinson Cano

NBA reportedly didn’t like Nets’ black jerseys because African-Americans don’t look good on TV in black

The New York Times has a feature on Jay-Z’s involvement as a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets, but there’s one particular nugget from the story that is more noteworthy than the others.

While depicting some areas where the rapper/businessman has impacted the franchise, reporter David M. Halbfinger slips in this controversial detail:

[Jay-Z] 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).

It’s no wonder why the NBA would deny such a charge. I also don’t think a reputable publication like the New York Times would allow such a controversial anecdote to be printed unless it were well sourced.

The NBA is extraordinarily business-conscious, so they obviously care about how their product looks on TV. I wouldn’t ever expect them to confirm the story, but it’s interesting that it’s out there.

I actually think the Nets’ new logos and color scheme look excellent and am glad it was approved.

H/T I am a GM

Nets Fined $50,000 for Jay-Z Talking to Kentucky Players

A couple weeks ago, Jay-Z was seen celebrating with the Kentucky basketball team in their locker room after they punched their ticket to the Final Four.  At the time, we wondered if the NBA would levy a fine against the Nets, since it’s illegal for NBA team personnel to talk to college players.  Naturally, the rath of Stern has been felt.

The Nets were fined $50,000 by the league on Friday, as Pro Basketball Talk pointed out to us.  Personally, I don’t see it as being a huge deal that Jay-Z was hanging out with the team after their win.  Considering they were still amidst a possible championship quest, I doubt he was roaming around trying to convince players to leave school early and declare for the draft.

That being said, the fine could be seen as nothing more than a slap on the wrist when you consider the NBA fined Danny Ainge $30,000 for sitting with Kevin Durant’s mother at a Texas game.  Ainge was making contact with a college player through a family member, whereas Jay-Z was chatting it up with several players directly.  When you look at it that way, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the Nets were given more than double the Ainge fine.  Again, I don’t see either situation as being a big deal.

Jay-Z Could Be Fined for Talking to Kentucky Players

We just came across a small blurb on CBSSports.com that may or may not interest you, depending on your interest level in tampering violations.  When Kentucky punched its ticket to the Final Four Sunday afternoon, a special visitor dropped into the locker room after the game to celebrate with the Wildcats.  The guest was none other than Jay-Z, who is no stranger to interacting with NBA folks, and as you can imagine the Kentucky players were amped over it.

The problem is Jay-Z is a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Nets, they are a professional basketball team that plays in the NBA.  NBA teams like the Nets build their franchises by drafting collegiate athletes once they lose their amateur status — after they are eligible to leave school and declare for the draft.  That status still applies during the NCAA Tournament.

When Celtics GM Danny Ainge sat with Kevin Durant’s mother during the 2007 NCAA Tournament, he was slapped with a $30,000 fine for excessive contact with an amateur athlete’s family.  With that in mind, it would stand to reason that Jay-Z will likely be fined $30,000 for each player he came in contact with on Sunday.

Kentucky boasts top draft prospects like Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, but somehow I doubt Jay-Z was talking shop with them minutes after they won their biggest game of the season.  Nevertheless, it was obviously poor judgment on his part.  Then again, maybe it was worth the fine.

LeBron Watch: Stephen A. Smith Makes a Prediction, Jay-Z Says Very Little

If nothing else, Jay-Z has made it tough to get a read on what his approach will be in trying to land LeBron James.  Publicly, he’s come out and stated that he would not try to convince LeBron to sign with the Nets, although we all know that’s completely false.  With July 1 only days away, the LeBron James free agency rumors are in full swing.  It’s already been said that Chris Bosh and LeBron to the Chicago Bulls is a done deal.  Stephen A. Smith disagrees with that prediction and has made it clear that he believes LeBron and Bosh are both headed to Miami to team with Dwyane Wade.  If that’s true you can go ahead and cancel the season, but we’ll get into that after.  First, have a look at the video of Jay-Z talking about LeBron James with David Letterman, courtesy of Waiting For Next Year via Sports by Brooks Live:

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Jay-Z Not As Confident in Nets Future as Mikhail Prokhorov

Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov both own a stake in the New Jersey Nets.  They share a title of owner, but they may not share a level of confidence in the team’s immediate future.  I say that because Jay-Z had some interesting comments about whether or not he is recruiting LeBron James to sign with the Nets.  When asked about Knicks president Donnie Walsh’s plan to get as many people as possible to recruit King James to Madison Square Garden as a home next season — including Yankees players — Derek Jeter expressed that he sees no point in doing that.

Although he obviously isn’t going to try and convince James to sign with the Knicks, Jay-Z said that he wasn’t going to try very hard to persuade him to sign with the Nets either.  Here’s what Jay-Z said about recruiting LeBron James in a recent Rolling Stone interview:

That’s his decision. We’re friends — we’ve still gotta hang out! I don’t want to convince somebody to do something, then have to see him and say, ‘Uh, yeah, we’re 4-30 … sorry.'”

Don’t worry, I’m not trying to make a huge deal out of nothing.  I know he’s probably kidding around, and of course Jay-Z’s going to try to convince the biggest free agent name on the market (who also happens to be his close friend) to sign with the team he’s a part-owner of.  What struck me as a bit funny about the comments is how much they differ from the message Prokhorov delivered in his video to Nets fans, when he wouldn’t rule out an NBA Championship next season.  Jay-Z is most likely just playing it cool to maintain his image, and he and LeBron probably had a laugh about it.  He can say whatever he’d like, but at the end of the day we all know he cares a lot more than Kobe Bryant about where The King plays next season.

Jeter, Jay-Z not recruiting James to N.Y. [ESPN New York]