99 Problems, and the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is Apparently One

Jay-Z wanted a music label, so he became the CEO of Def Jam Recordings, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation. Jay-Z wanted to create a clothing line … enter Roca Wear. Jay-Z wanted to make a name for himself in the bar/lounge scene, so along came his 40/40 Club concept. Jay-Z wanted to become a sports franchise owner, so he invested in a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets. With no ascertainable unfinished business, Jay-Z’s interests in these ventures have come and gone over the years, and now his empire state of mind is set on another project — his Roc Nation Sports agency. At first blush, this may seem like a gimmick where Jay-Z is just using his name and brand to explore new revenue streams to make his kingdom come, but you can’t knock the hustle! Partnering with Creative Artists Agency (CAA), he is certainly trying to change the game; Yankees second basemen Robinson Cano has already left the infamous Scott Boras to jump on board. Now Jay-Z has announced his intention to move to the agency side of basketball, but it comes at the cost of turning in his ownership stake.

Now for the legal analysis associated with this week’s hot sports news. For all of you contract law junkies out there, such as myself, let’s do a brief exercise in reviewing the NBA’s oh-so-elusive collective bargaining agreement. Ideally, Jay-Z would have had the best of both worlds, but under the Circumvention (Article XIII) provisions of the CBA (taken from the most recent version provided by the National Basketball Players Association), there is reasonable doubt that would have ever been possible.

  • “At no time shall there be any agreements or transactions of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate) … concerning any future Renegotiation, Extension, or amendment of an existing Player Contract, or entry into a new Player Contract ….” Art. XIII (Circumvention), Section 2: No Unauthorized Agreements.
  • “‘Team Affiliate’ means [among others] … any individual or entity who or which (directly or indirectly) holds an ownership interest in a Team (other than ownership of publicly-traded securities constituting less than 5% of the ownership interests in a Team)….” Art. I (Definitions).

For this next era in the life and times of S. Carter, who seems to have established a name for himself in every industry he has entered, analysts suspect that he will serve primarily as a figure-head and marketing icon, leaving most of the traditional agent work to the professionals at CAA — much like his ownership role with the Nets organization. Nevertheless, preliminary reports discuss his intention to go through the licensing process for NBPA compliance, which necessitates the sacrifice of his owner status. Whether your an NBA player, coach, fan, agent, owner, or referee, you are sure to learn that the NBA has some rules established for you, and Jay-Z just encountered another. In the grand scheme of things, though, when this venture of his is all said and done, he will have doubled his money and made a stack, and it will be on to the next one.

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