Over the past decade, Jay Z has turned his sports savvy into shrewd business moves. After cementing his legacy as a primetime performer and lyricist, Hov then founded the sports management agency Roc Nation Sports, a joint venture with Creative Arts Agency, in 2013 and built a formidable roster reeling in superstar athletes.
Within the past three years, Roc Nation Sports signed Golden State Warriors small forward Kevin Durant, New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, Seattle Mariners star Robinson Cano, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, and WNBA star Skylar Diggins.
Beyond his agent duties, the Brooklyn native has also been a voice in the sports world. From his 2008 diss against basketball star DeShawn Stevenson to his recent dig at Phil Jackson’s “posse comments” during his speech at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year ceremony honoring Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, look back on his biggest sports moments below.
Jay Z Disses DeShawn Stevenson in Support of LeBron James
In 2008, LeBron James was facing a whirlwind of criticism, especially from his longtime foe, former Washington Wizards forward, DeShawn Stevenson. In light of their heated confrontation in the first round of the playoffs, Stevenson pegged LBJ as “overrated.” Jay Z came to friend James’ defense and delivered a scathing freestyle aimed at Stevenson on Too Short’s “Blow The Whistle.”
James also weighed in on Stevenson’s comments, saying, “With DeShawn Stevenson, it’s kind of funny. It’s almost like Jay Z [responding to a negative comment] made by Soulja Boy. It doesn’t make sense.”
Stevenson bore no ill will towards Hov, though, telling the NY Daily News in 2013, “I mean, I take it as an honor that [Jay Z] even made a song about me. You know? He doesn’t even do that with rappers.”
Jay Z Purchases a Stake in the New Jersey Nets to Bring the Team to Brooklyn
Jay Z flexed his entrepreneurial muscle when he purchased a stake in the New Jersey Nets in 2004 for a reported $1 million. By teaming up with Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, Jay Z helped move the team to his native Brooklyn in 2012. (Jay Z then sold his stake in 2013, writing in a lengthy note, “I’m a Brooklyn Net forever.”)
Jay Z Signs Kevin Durant to Roc Nation Sports
In 2013, Jay Z made a huge splash with his signing of Kevin Durant. The then three-time All-Star was in the midst of his five-year $89 million contract with his former team Oklahoma City Thunder (K.D. now plays for the Golden State Warriors) when he elected to ink a deal with Roc Nation Sports. Later, Durant and Jay teamed up to pull off arguably the company’s biggest win to date: snagging a $300 million deal with Nike in 2014.
Jay Z Throwing Shade at Phil Jackson’s Comments During LeBron James Tribute
Last month, Jay Z responded to New York Knicks President Phil Jackson’s “posse” comments after the latter had some choice words for LeBron James. In an interview with ESPN, Jackson referred to James and his friends as a “posse”, which angered the three-time NBA Finals MVP. Once again, Jay Z honored the bro code and defended James by slyly throwing a subliminal at Jackson during his speech at the S.I. Sportsperson of the Year ceremony in Brooklyn earlier this month.
“We know where we come from,” Jay Z said at the event held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. “We do understand where we come from, and the only difference between us and someone who has their MBA from Wharton or Sloan or Berkeley or Stanford is opportunity. LeBron James has provided his friends with that opportunity. And as we witness their development, and if we’re looking up at the scoreboard, very few businessmen are better than Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, Randy Mims, and all the rest of the posse behind the scenes that make it look like they’re just hanging out.”
Jay Z Showcasing His Dribbling Skills After Kobe Bryant’s Last Game
Besides squeezing together double and triple entendres in his verse, Jay Z has other talents, as well. In the past, he has routinely showed off his ball-handling skills during basketball games as evidenced in this backstage video after Kobe Bryant’s final game in April.
Jay Z Daps Up Dallas Cowboys Wide-Receiver Dez Bryant During a New York Giants Game
Though Jay Z may call New York his first home, the Brooklynite showed his allegiance to his Roc Nation Sports client Dez Bryant when he dapped him up before the Giants took on the Cowboys earlier this month.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 12, 2016
Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Praises Jay Z
Because of his business acumen, Jay Z has won the the respect of many notable figures in sports. One person who gravitated to Jay Z over the past several years has been Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones. In an interview with 105.3 The Fan, Jones gushed about Jay and his affability. “He, as an individual, is one of the neatest people that I’ve met,” Jones said. “Make no mistake about it, he’s the real deal. He’s as easy to be around, talk to, as sharp as anybody I’ve met. I see what she sees in him.
Jay Z Supports the Brooklyn Nets Wearing “I Can’t Breathe T-Shirts”
After the unfortunate death of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of police in 2014, and the grand jury’s decision to not indict the NYPD officer who put Garner in a chokehold, the Brooklyn Nets took a stand. The team rallied together during a regular season game and wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts for their pre-game shootaround. Jay Z took a photo with the players to signify his stance on the controversial matter. Grassroots activist group Justice League NYC had arranged a delivery of the shirts with Jay Z.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) December 9, 2014
Jay Z Signs LSU Running Back Leonard Fournette to Roc Nation Sports
With a roster already boasting the A-list athletes, Hov bolstered his line-up with the signing of LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. Nearly two weeks ago, the sturdy running back inked his deal with Roc Nation Sports and is slated to be a Top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft.