Jay-Z to help with Nets recruiting

Here's the Jay-Z/Mikhail Prokhorov billboard that was just put up near Madison Square Garden. Jeff Skopin

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z is going to be a part of the New Jersey Nets' recruiting team during free agency, and not just when they meet with his good buddy, LeBron James.

Jay-Z will be in Akron, Ohio, on Thursday when owner Mikhail Prokhorov, coach Avery Johnson and outgoing president and general manager Rod Thorn make their initial pitch to James.

The entertainer will be overseas for concerts this weekend when the Nets talk to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but expect the minority owner back when the Nets talk to Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and Rudy Gay.

"We've never had anything like this in my time that I can remember," New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn said. "There have been big-time free agents before, but never this many teams that are trying to woo them. So it's unprecedented."

Brett Yormark, president and chief executive of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, wouldn't or couldn't specifically outline the game plan for the Nets' presentation to James.

"From my point of view there is not a silver bullet in our story," Yormark said Wednesday. "We think we have a very compelling story, and you tell the story."

The Nets have more to say than they are coming off a league-worst 12-70 record and that they have roughly $30 million to spend on a free agent market. They have two young stars in point guard Devin Harris and center Brook Lopez along with optimism for power forward Derrick Favors, the third pick overall in the draft last week.

The picture is bigger, though. For the next two seasons they will play in a relatively new arena in Newark before moving to their new digs in Brooklyn.

"Our story is truly complete when you think of the globalization of this team," Yormark said. "We have a global owner. You have involvement by one of the most dynamic and global entertainers in the world. You have a core nucleus on the court that is very well respected. You have a new dynamic coach who has the best winning percentage of any active coach.

"You have the two-year move to Brooklyn, which I think is a game changer in what that will mean to Brooklyn, but also globally. Brooklyn is a global borough. It has been under served in sports and entertainment since 1957. We think we have a very powerful platform that someone will want to be a part of."

And there is the Jay-Z factor.

The 40-year-old rapper and 10-time Grammy Award winner is the X-factor. People seem to want to be around him, and the Nets are using that.

Just this week, they put up a 225-foot mural of Jay-Z and Prokhorov in midtown Manhattan, proclaiming "the blueprint for greatness."

Jay-Z's 2001 album is "The Blueprint."

What made the mural so interesting was its location at Eighth Ave. and 34th St. That's right next to Madison Square Garden, the home of the New York Knicks, one of the Nets' rivals in the LeBron bidding war along with the Cavaliers and Bulls.

"I think his presence will grow with this franchise en route to Brooklyn," Yormark said. "He has been waiting for this moment for quite some time with respect to being on the verge to Brooklyn and becoming the Brooklyn Nets. I would tend to say his involvement and his influence in this franchise will continue to grow over time. I don't look at this as a one-shot deal.

"I think it is fair to say, he is iconic himself," Yormark said. "He is embraced by consumers and athletes alike, so having him as part of our platform is truly powerful and I think a differentiator."