Jay-Z was not scheduled to be at the Palace of Auburn Hills Friday night as the Nets took on the Pistons. He's scheduled for two concerts in London and a talk with Prince Charles.
But the hip-factor is upped for the series with the shadow of this iconic, influential 34-year-old rapper, born Shawn Carter, hovering over the basketball games. The excitement quotient is further enhanced by Jay-Z's girlfriend, R&B superstar Beyonce.
Jay-Z recently joined a group led by New York real estate developer Bruce Ratner as it prepared to purchase the New Jersey Nets with a $300 million bid. Jay-Z did not disclose what financial stake he has in the purchase, but he is not the lead investor.
"It's the first time that a rapper has had his hands in any professional sports. It's a good thing for the community," says Nets star Kenyon Martin, a Saginaw native who has hung out with the rapper on several occasions.