Shaquille O’Neal buys a stake in the Sacramento Kings

Shaquille O’Neal — “Dr. O’Neal,” if you ask him — is hoping to help cure the Sacramento Kings.

As the Kings continue their image makeover that was sparked by the late May sale of the team to Vivek Ranadive, they have made a big and bold move by adding O’Neal as a minority owner. The TNT analyst once gleaned pleasure in deriding the Kings, whom he owned in a very different way when his Lakers thrice knocked their rival out of the playoffs en route to titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Now his joy will come from seeing one of the league’s worst-performing franchises turn things around.

His involvement will begin in earnest today, as O’Neal — who has a doctorate degree in education from Barry University in Miami — plans to meet with Kings players and coaches in Sacramento before having dinner with franchise centerpiece and new protégé DeMarcus Cousins.

“What interested me in this deal is the new vision, the new Kings, the new everything,” said O’Neal, who so famously deemed the Kings the “Queens” at the start of the 2002-03 season. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this. … It’s going to be great.”

The timing couldn’t be better for the Kings, who took exception to ESPN’s recent franchise rankings that pegged them last among 122 organizations in the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB. The analysis was based on the team’s woeful recent history and lackluster fan support, as the Kings not only missed the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons under the Maloof family that owned them previously but were on the edge of relocation to Anaheim and Seattle before Ranadive bought the team to keep it in town.

The new regime, which is headed by the Silicon Valley software tycoon in Ranadive and also includes 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, is determined to change perceptions and has even crafted a marketing campaign aimed at dispelling the unwelcome ESPN distinction.

“Hey ESPN … Nice Airball,” one of their promotional posters for a Nov. 15 home game that will be aired by ESPN reads. “New era. New swagger. The best fans await you.”

Written by Nick


Nick the Quick White is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?

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