The New Jersey Nets were hit with a hefty $50,000 fine following minority owner Jay-Z’s impromptu visit to the locker room of Final Four squad the Kentucky Wildcats last month.
The expensive slap on the wrist from NBA officials was due in part to a ruling set in stone by the league that professional team personnel must avoid any contact with collegiate athletes that are not yet draft-eligible. NBA spokesman Tim Frank confirmed the fine Friday (April 8) before the Nets entered a contest with nearby rival squad the New York Knicks at New Jersey’s Prudential Center.
CBSSports.com broke the initial news of the infraction and the NBA’s investigation as video surfaced of Jay-Z congratulating Kentucky team members at the Prudential Center after the squad clinched a Final Four berth by defeating the North Carolina Tarheels.
The video reportedly showed no evidence of foul play or tampering, as the players were clearly soaking up the experience of meeting one of hip-hop’s most successful stars. Caught up in the revelry of the moment, it may have slipped the mogul’s mind that he was in violation of the league’s very strict rule by going in the locker room and greeting the players after their big win.
New Jersey Nets officials expected the fine, surely a drop in the bucket for billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who began his takeover of the team in 2009 with the NBA, approving the sale in 2010 — giving Mr. Prohorov an 80 percent majority stake of ownership of the ball club.