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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 4:13am

Super agent Boras' days numbered

Hip-hop artist Jay-Z is finally breaking the near-monopoly held by the man who is loved by athletes but loathed by fans

BIO

Tim Noonan has been crafting uniquely provocative columns for the SCMP and SMP for more than a decade. A native of Canada, he has over 20 years’ experience in Asia and has been a regular contributor to a number of prominent publications, including Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Independent.
 

Humility will never cut it in hip-hop. You have to be bold if you want to take hold. No one has to tell Shawn Carter that. Carter grew up without much in a bleak and rough public housing project in Brooklyn. He claims he was a hustler who started selling crack from the time he was 12 up until his mid-20s when he got his first record deal. He changed his job, changed his name and changed his industry. Today Jay-Z's net worth is half a billion US dollars. Now that's a hustler.

But you want to talk hustle? Scott Boras can stare you down. The most notorious baseball agent of all time, calling Boras a hustler would actually be a compliment considering every owner and most fans simply refer to him as an extortionist. Boras has personally negotiated contracts over the years that have netted about US$5 billion. Not sure what his exact percentage is on all that but even if it's a little, it's a lot.

The 60-year-old Boras often sports turtlenecks and sweaters. When he does wear jeans, they usually have pleats in them. He is about as hip as an Air Supply concert. So how is it that this uber-square, elderly man ended up on the most anticipated hip-hop album of the last few years?

Magna Carta Holy Grail is Jay-Z's first solo album since 2009 and it's no surprise when he takes a poke at fellow rapper Lil Wayne. Having a beef with your peers is as much a part of hip-hop as courtside seats and profanity. But to diss Boras as well? Oh man, when will it stop? Hopefully never because this is just so much fun. Not only is Lil Wayne one of Jay-Z's peers, now Boras is as well.

Jay-Z is in the sports agent business and freshly licensed by Major League Baseball and the NBA. His Roc Nation Sports group is just getting started but already it has managed to procure NBA star Kevin Durant and Notre Dame's photogenic basketball star Skylar Diggins, who is set to become the face of women's sports in the US. Most noteworthy, he managed to steal New York Yankees all-star second baseman Robinson Cano right from under Boras, which is no small feat considering Cano will be a free agent after this season and command upwards of US$100 million.

"For him to make such immediate changes means a lot was said to him," said Boras after Cano left. "A lot was promised and a player sometimes needs time to understand situations when a great amount of new information comes his way."

Boras, and sports agents in general, better get used to it because Jay-Z is threatening to completely alter the sports representative landscape. And he isn't shy about it either. "Scott Boras, you over baby," he raps on his new song Crown, "Robinson Cano, you coming with me."

Truth is, if you are a client of Boras you might get a lobster dinner in Newport Beach. But to get up close and hang with Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce, maybe share baby pictures with his buddy Kanye West as well? That whole fame thing is just so intoxicating.

Jay-Z is arguably the most gifted marketer in the universe with a plethora of corporate partners at his beck and call. If you're a young athlete looking to maximise opportunities because the length of your career is limited, then aligning with him seems like a no-brainer. He had a stint as chief executive of the Def Jam record label and brought them West and Rihanna. He made Kanye a household name long before Kanye married Kim Kardashian, while Rihanna is pretty much the biggest female act in music today.

Jay-Z also has an interest in English soccer club Arsenal and has said his goal is to get Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi to play for the north London team. I wouldn't bet against him either because if you have the talent and the flair, he has proven he will get you paid in ways you never dreamed of.

Still I wouldn't be so quick to write any obits on Boras just yet. His remaining stable of players is quite formidable. However, one can dream of his demise because from ticket prices to concessions, no agent has personally done more to raise the cost to watch a baseball game than Boras and he has done it with a seemingly psychopathic glee. If you are a player you love him. If you are a fan you hate him. Around here, sympathy for the devil is in short supply.

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Super agent Boras' days numbered

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