Jay-Z Branches Out Into Sports, Lands Cano and Cruz; Is LeBron Next?

Jay-Z has built an impressive empire as a rap mogul, and now he’s moving into sports, reaching an agreement with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents more than 800 professional athletes. Jay-Z has wasted no time making moves, signing on New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz as clients. 

This move into the world of sports agency has not gone unnoticed. Cano was signed away from Scott Boras, universally regarded as baseball’s most powerful agent. And the Cruz signing was initially treated as a potential violation of NFLPA rules. The NFLPA’s “runner rule” prohibits anyone not certified as an agent from recruiting players. The NFLPA issued a statement that they were unlikely to treat this as a violation, given Cruz’s long-standing friendship with Jay-Z. 

Nevertheless, since this recruitment drew the ire of some agents, so the issue is likely to surface again.  Shawn Smith, the PR and Marketing Director for X-A-M Sports, tweeted, “#XAMSports follows the #NFLPA’s #runnerrule. Even though I OWN the biz and handle day-to-day interactions w/clients – I can NOT recruit”. She then added, “Note: Bringing a big name to sports agency – brilliant move. I just want the rules applied to everyone who is playing in my sand box.” 

Jay-Z, it appears, has a plan to counter these charges; he has reportedly applied for certification as a baseball agent.  One assumes that attempts to become certified in other sports may not be far off.  At present, he is not an agent, but has a partnership with CAA through his new company, Roc Nation Sports.  CAA’s Tom Condon and Brodie Van Wagenen are the agents for Cruz and Cano, respectively. 

This move has been expected for some time; Jay-Z is friends with many players in the major sports, and with the line between sports and entertainment increasingly blurring, it should come as no surprise that many athletes would want to take advantage of the opportunities in the entertainment world that Jay-Z, and his company, Roc Nation, could provide. 

However, the elephant in the room is whether he will land LeBron James.  The two are close friends and co-host an annual party at NBA all-star weekend called “Two Kings”, where they entertain the biggest names in sports and entertainment.  James was represented by CAA until last year, so Jay-Z’s involvement with the agency may be enough to kindle a reunion.   

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