The NBA has opened an investigation into Jay-Z’s visit to the University of Kentucky locker room following their win over University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to advance to the Final 4. Jay-Z is a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets and league rules prohibit team personnel from having contact with players who are not yet draft eligible, says NBA spokesman Tim Frank.
The East Region semifinals were played at the Prudential Center, where the New Jersey Nets play their regular season home games. Jay-Z went to the locker room after the game, presumably to congratulate John Calipari, the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. It is assumed that Jay-Z and Calipari got acquainted this past summer through Williams Wesley, a.k.a Worldwide Wes, an NBA power broker with connections to major sports agency CAA. There have been whispers recently that Calipari is looking to gauge the interest in him returning to the NBA as a head coach.
The NBA has fined others in the past for having contact with players or family members before being draft-eligible. Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge was fined $30,000 for having a conversation with Kevin Durant’s mother at the Big 12 tournament. However, there have been other instances where I feel the NBA has turned a blind eye with regards to team personnel interacting with college basketball players.
There is a YouTube clip floating around of Michael Jordan promising current North Carolina basketball players any pair of Jordans they want if they make it to the Final 4. Because Jordan Brand is the official sponsor of North Carolina basketball, the conversation was perfectly legal. However, Michael Jordan is the majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. Another example would be when then-minority Lakers owner Magic Johnson spoke to the Michigan State basketball team before their championship game versus UNC. In neither of these cases were the two Hall of Famers investigated or fined by the NBA. Does the rule not apply to alums of the schools?
In the end, Jay-Z can expect a hefty fine for his seemingly innocent trip into Kentucky’s locker room. The Wildcats have two definite first-round picks on their team, but it is uncertain whether Jay-Z said anything to them to convince them to leave school early.