Kanye West is playing a Jedi mind trick on professional sports. It’s a step-by-step process involving a lot of creativity, a large brand he built from the borderlands of genius, mania, and big balls of vulnerability.
Aaron Donald, Jaylen Brown, and Antonio “Boomin'” Brown now comprise the front face of West’s Donda Sports. The organization touts itself as a marketing firm, but in all honesty, for West, it is the art of cultural convergence.
In the dictionary, marketing means “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” Who better than an athlete NFL fans admire and gawk at like a piece of art. West understands how to monetize intrinsic value.
The Donald in Donda
Enter Aaron Donald, who is signed to the Los Angeles Rams through the 2024 season but reportedly has no guaranteed money left on his deal. Although the Rams have acknowledged that they are working on a new contract with Donald, the Super Bowl winner also couldn’t” care less if he doesn’t play again.
“It ain’t about the money; it’s a business at the end of the day,” Donald said on the “I Am Athlete” podcast. “That’s what you’ve got to see. For me, it’s about winning. I don’t want to play football if I can’t win anyway, so I feel like if I got a real opportunity to win another Super Bowl, then it makes sense to play.
“But again, it’s still a business. We’ve got to handle the business side of things, and if that wasn’t to get handled then, you know, it is what it is type of situation. I’ll be fine regardless.”
The Jay In Ye
For Jaylen Brown, the ability to spread his wings across the cultural canvas that Kanye West has propped on the world’s easel is too good not to indulge.
“It was time. For me, like I said, anytime I make a life decision, I contemplate. I think about things deeply,” Brown said to the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “And from what I want to do, the missions I want to get accomplished, it was the right decision.
“People have concerns or critiques, etc., but in the world we live in, there’s concerns and critiques in any and everything,” Brown continued. “I feel like this is a good moment for me in my particular life. I’m excited to build and create and do things that I’ve always imagined I wanted to do on the court and off.”
The Boomin’ In Donda
For Antonio Brown, his mania has finally found its svengali in a man who once declared that being bipolar was his superpower, inverting the narrative in his public inconsistencies.
Whatever the reason, Kanye knows how to turn artists into self-contained businesses, and he is aligning with stars at the point of their highest leverage in the case of Donald and Brown. With AB, the rebel without a cause, it’s about the symbolism of petulance as its form of art, Kanye’s own living sports mascot like the way he morphed the Ralph Lauren preppy teddy bear into the college dropout.
Rest assured, as more join the Donda Sports bandwagon, West’s Jedi mind trick might work on the public and sports ownership too.