Jay-Z Signs Kevin Durant to Roc Nation Sports
The signing of New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano came with the announcement of his new sports agency and immediately made him a player in the world of baseball representation. Then came word that he was assisting New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz with his marketing efforts. New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith also switched over to his agency. Somewhere in between, Roc Nation Sports signed WNBA rookie Skylar Diggins. And now the sports agent industry is abuzz after it was reported that NBA superstar Kevin Durant wants to be represented by this man. His name is Jay-Z, and he is blazing a trail rather quickly after deciding that he wanted to venture into the world of athlete representation. It is a trail that others may seek to travel, but will likely fail in attempting to match or best Jay-Z’s imprint.
“We are honored and blessed to have worked on behalf of Kevin [Durant], for a brief period of time,” said Rob Pelinka, who is now known as Kevin Durant’s former agent. It is a respectful and honorable statement, but one that masks a general fear that many agents loathe to admit. Some agents have taken the alternate route and have decided to publicly question the decision making process of Roc Nation Sports clients.
Whether or not a switch to Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports can actually enhance an athlete’s endorsement portfolio is not a relevant question. Athletes perceive Jay-Z as having the ability to build more robust brands, which is all that matters in an industry mired by cutthroat competition. This will be an ongoing major challenge for Jay-Z’s competitors who are recruiting the same potential clientele.
The “cool” factor also helps Jay-Z. A league source told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, “[Durant] wants Jay-Z to handle his branding. …He had a chance to be with his idol and couldn’t say no.” A sports agent as an idol? How does one compete against that?
Nike, Sprint, Gatorade, BBVA Compass, 2K Sports, Panini America, Skullcandy — a list of brands that have already requested and gained the right to say they are endorsed by Kevin Durant. He was able to create those relationships exclusive of any tie to Jay-Z and despite the fact that he plays in Oklahoma City, which is one of the smaller markets hosting an NBA team. Is a switch to Jay-Z worth anything more than Durant being able to say he is represented by his idol?
Kevin Durant is currently in the middle of a 5-year, $89 million maximum rookie scale extension that he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 7, 2010. Thus, he is in no immediate need of an NBPA certified player agent to negotiate his next deal. If Durant signs with Roc Nation Sports, it will simply be for off-the-court endeavors for the foreseeable future.
The eventual signing of Kevin Durant will be another gigantic win for Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports. It is a public service announcement that this two month window of success for Roc Nation Sports is no fad. Jay-Z is now a real player in the game and his competition needs to keep their eyes on the throne.