Photo courtesy of forbes.com
The NBA playoffs are in full swing and like every playoffs the intensity and level of play has increased exponentially. Every series has its own flow with different peeks and valleys and different story-lines seemingly emerge after every play. One such team that unfortunately is not involved in the playoffs this year, but has already had an intriguing story for next season, are The Brooklyn (formerly of New Jersey) Nets.
The Nets as a franchise came into existence in 1967 and were one of the original teams of the American Basketball Association (ABA), an upstart league that was in direct competition with the National Basketball Association (NBA). Eventually, in 1976 the merger of both leagues occurred and the Nets franchise, after some disputes and legal wrangling with the more established New York Knicks franchise, settled in New Jersey where they have played up until now. Next season, the Nets will move into their new home, The Barclays Center located in Brooklyn. Clearly, the ownership of the Nets believe that moving into New York city will allow them to have a larger impact in terms of visibility and allow them the opportunity to challenge the New York Knicks as the team in New York.
One member of the ownership group and a person that the media has attributed the moving of the team to Brooklyn is Brooklyn native Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z. Jay-Z paid a sum of 4.5 million dollars for his shares in ownership of the team, which is in stark contrast to the principle owner of the Nets, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who paid 200 million dollars for a 80 percent ownership share of the Nets and 45 percent ownership of the Barclays Center.
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets' new home. Photo courtesy of netsdaily.com
Jay-Z, while having an ownership in the team is clearly a minority owner and one can assume that Mikhail Prokhorov and the people he has hired to run the team gets final say regarding the team. Jay-Z may have wanted to move the Nets to Brooklyn and may have had a role in convincing and selling the move to Mikhail Prokhorov, but its pretty obvious the team wasn't going to relocate without Prokhorov's final approval.
The media tends to focus on Jay-Z's ownership of the Nets and often attributes a lot of aspects of the team to him. For example, when Lebron James was deciding whether or not to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, many sports reporters gave the Nets an edge in landing Lebron James because of his friendship with Jay-Z. During that summer, Jay-Z famously had sit down meetings with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh where one can assume he tried to convince the three biggest free agents of that year to play for the Nets.
Pals Jay-Z and Lebron James fist bumping. Photo courtesy of bossip.com
Jay-Z has also been the face for the team with regards to the move to Brooklyn and he has been heavily involved in the marketing and creation of the new logo and team colours which were officially revealed to the public on April 30. The black and white colour design and lettering is suppose to invoke an urban feel and also the 1950s signage that was around the city of Brooklyn when they last had a major sports franchise.
Some media members and writers were less then pleased with what they saw. New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick railed on the new design as well as Jay-Z's involvement in their creation stating:
As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots—what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new 'urban' home—why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?
He goes on to further say:
Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N-----s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B---hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!
New York Post columnist Phil Muschnick. Photo courtesy of theurbanpolitico.com
Now I realize Muschnick is being sarcastic and he's writing for the New York Post, which is not exactly known for its restraint; however, in his attempt to state his opinion, he devalues everything he says by using such terrible language. One can argue that the new "urban" logo invokes memories of the LA Raiders in the 1990s where the teams black and silver colours were linked and glorified by rap groups such as NWA and helped fuel the rise of hip-hop in America. Maybe Muschinick is against that association, but any opinion he had is lost when he decided to use words and phrases that should never have been allowed to be printed let alone appear in a major publication such as the New York Post.
He's not the first writer to attempt to describe the link between sports and hip hop culture and he's also not the first writer to criticize Jay-Z and some of his lyrics as well as the persona he has created, however, Muschinick decisively went about that in the wrong way.
Ice Cube, a member of hip-hop group NWA, showing support for the Los Angeles Raiders. Photo courtesy of espn.go.com
Muschinick obviously began to receive heavy criticism for his remarks but he refused to apologize stating, "I don't call black men n---gs [Writer's note: I added the hashtags]; my kids never heard the word until folks such as Jay-Z came along. I'd suggest you talk to him about it. What I wrote today was on Jay Z's artistry, and only the wishful and foolish would so badly misinterpret and mischaracterize it."
Muschnick believes that because Jay-Z has made a fortune using the N-word it's fair game for him to use it in criticizing the colours of a basketball team. Well, I guess have to apologize for my misinterpretation. I tend to do that when people use racist language and are extremely misinformed on how hurtful and damaging those words can be, especially when used so liberally.
What do you think of the new logo? Does knowing Jay-Z was involve in its creation make a difference to you?