Is LeBron going to let longtime friend Jay-Z represent him? Some might laugh. Some already say yes. Some say ‘not anytime soon.’ We don’t have to wonder about whether Jay-Z is thinking about it; Roc Nation would love to have LeBron, but so would any other agency. We’re wondering whether LeBron is considering it, and the answer is: beyond a “Reasonable Doubt.”
Friends. How Many of Us Have Them?
LeBron has worn the Roc jersey already, you know. Jay-Z’s 2003 streetball team featured James, who referred to himself as “part of the Roc” when MTV interviewed the two together during the “Roc the Mic” tour. The words “love” and “family” might get thrown around a little loosely to the paparazzi, but the two have clearly been good friends for well over a decade now. We’ve seen them together putting on a free concert in 2008 for a hopeful presidential candidate named Barack Obama, putting musical instruments into the hands of 200 students at Arizona’s Mesa Arts Academy, even going on a “double date” at the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman Of The Year Award. More recently, the “2 Kings” hosted their 6th annual private party during All-Star Weekend in Houston.
LeBron is no stranger to signing with friends, or to leaving big agencies when his friends start smaller ones. Case in point: Rich Paul. When LeBron left Leon Rose, it wasn’t for a bigger agency (is there any bigger agency than CAA?), it was for an unproven agent who lacked experience, or even a college degree. It was for a guy who LeBron met when he was 17, and Paul was making money selling jerseys from the trunk of his car. The two have been the “best of friends” ever since, half of the “Four Horsemen” — four fellow Clevelanders who have consistently shocked the business world by refusing to choose big agents over trusted friends. Paul and the other two (Maverick Carter and Randy Mims) created LRMR Marketing, and LeBron chose them over superagent Aaron Goodwin (even after Goodwin landed James his 90 Million Nike deal).
Let’s Talk Business.
Jay-Z is not exactly unproven. Apart from 50 million albums sold and seventeen Grammy awards, his $500 Million personal worth and history of entrepreneurship shows a career of success that is more Warren Buffett than Warren G. But will Jay-Z see the same success in representation?
Well, it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the business of basketball. As part owner of the Nets, he helped move the team from New Jersey to his hometown of Brooklyn, giving the team its first playoff spot since the 06-07 season as well as leading the NBA in apparel sales. When he decided that he’d rather be an agent than an owner, he left the Nets in much better shape than he found them, although declaring that “It was never about an investment; it was about the Nets and Brooklyn.”
Let’s Talk Specifics.
Okay, but what are Jay-Z’s successes as an agent? How about signing Robinson Canó, the World Series champion and four-time All-Star — and taking him from super-agent Scott Boras, no less. Canó alone would be an impressive centerpiece for the fledgeling Roc Nation, but Jay-Z has also added Super Bowl veteran Victor Cruz and Skylar Diggins, who starts with the WNBA this year after setting an all-time scoring record at Notre Dame.
Oh, and Roc Nation isn’t just Jay-Z’s personal pet project; it’s a partnership with Live Nation — the major entertainment company that represented (among others) Michael Jordan, whose career provided more comparisons to LeBron’s than to anyone else. Signing with Jay-Z would be a victory for both friendship and branding, playing to the strengths of what each of them does better than anyone else. It’s not just beyond a Reasonable Doubt — it’s a virtual Blueprint for even greater successes.