NBA Wants Radio Edit of "Empire State Of Mind" During Free Agency Period, Threatens To Sanction Nets Owner Jay-Z

NBA commissioner David Stern has asked rapper Jay-Z -- a part owner of the New Jersey Nets franchise -- to release an edited version of his hit song "Empire State of Mind" to be played during the league's free agency period this summer.

The issue is a verse of the hit song where hip-hop star born as Sean Carter apparently makes contract offers to Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade: "If [unintelligible] is payin' LeBron/I'm payin Dwyane Wade."

This could be considered tampering, Stern said.

A spokesman for Jay's Roc Nation record label did not immediately
return a call for comment.

"It's simply against the league's rules for the owner of an NBA franchise to make contract offers to players who are under obligation to negotiate exclusively with another team," said Stern in an exclusive interview with Phoenix New Times after a meeting Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, who heads the NBA's rules committee.

Though the rapper may still face consequences if there's later an apparent impropriety with either James or Wade, releasing an edited song is the right thing to do, said Stern.

"It came up in today's meeting between Jerry and I, and we're both concerned. We wish the song wasn't out there at all, but I think everyone on the [Rules] committee agrees -- certainly Jerry and I agree -- that if Shawn releases an edited version, as the music business often does when profanity is an issue in a song, that would be a show of good faith," Stern said.

Though hesitate to get involved in the creative process, Stern offered one possible suggested change, playing off R&B star Usher's part ownership in the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I think 'Usher don't mess with contract negotiation/So I ain't gonna cause no commotion,' has a nice ring to it," Stern said. "Jigga's flow is sick, so he could make that shit work."

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar