Jay-Z's One-of-a-Kind Influence on the Nets

The rapper doesn't have a huge ownership stake in the new Brooklyn, N.Y., basketball team, but he could be rewriting the role of celebrity investors.

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Jay-Z is only has a one-fifteenth ownership interest in the new Brooklyn Nets, but his influence on the team, as well as his profits from his involvement, have been huge, according to a New York Times profile of the rapper's latest business venture.

He not only designed the logo, chose the uniform color scheme and coached the new Barclays Center on how to search for weapons without alienating fans, but it seems that he did something intangible as well: He made the whole thing cool.

Now, with the long-delayed Barclays Center arena nearing opening night in September and the Nets bidding in earnest for Brooklyn's loyalties, Jay-Z will perform eight sold-out shows to kick things off. But away from center stage he has put his mark on almost every facet of the enterprise, his partners say.

He 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). He counseled arena executives on what kind of music to play during games. ("Less Jersey," he urged, pushing niche artists like Santigold over old favorites like Bon Jovi.)

He even coached them on how to screen patrons for weapons without appearing too heavy-handed. ("Be mindful," he advised oracularly, "and be sensitive.")

In the two and a half years since groundbreaking, as taxi-roof advertisements promised "All access to Jay-Z," and sponsorship salespeople trumpeted how "hip and cool" he and his wife, Beyoncé, would make the arena, he and the Nets have effectively written a new playbook for how to deploy a strategic celebrity investor.

Read more at the New York Times.

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