What will Shaquille O’Neal bring to Kings?
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The NBA list of high-profile minority owners both past and present is long, from Jay Z and Justin Timberlake to Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, with many more A-listers in between.
It grew even longer on Monday, when, as was first reported by USA TODAY Sports, Shaquille O’Neal officially joined his former rival, the Sacramento Kings, in the sort of limited role that has become so trendy of late. By the time the afternoon rolled in and the news continued to spread around the globe, the small-market Kings, who recently were deemed the worst franchise in the USA’s four top sports leagues by ESPN The Magazine, were already seeing big-time payoff.
O’Neal’s infamous comments deeming the Kings the “Queens” back in 2002 only fueled the chatter around the move.
#Shaqramento was trending on Twitter, where O’Neal made such a splash by being one of the first elite athletes to join in 2008 and remains the fifth-most followed athlete (former or current) on the social media platform. O’Neal added substance all this style, discussing in an interview with USA TODAY Sports how he plans on turning young Kings center DeMarcus Cousins into the best big man in the game while raving about the team’s plans for a new arena.
This, in other words, is exactly what new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive had in mind when he signed off on this counter-intuitive partnership.
“We came to a conclusion that we could — what my (late) friend Steve Jobs likes to say — put a dent in the universe if Dr. O’Neal became my partner,” Ranadive said of O’Neal, who earned his doctorate in education at Barry University last year. “He’s already had an impact.”
In this pop culture-crazed day and age, where athletes and fans alike are so easily impressed by all the endless glitz and glamour, this may be the best public-relations ploy going in the NBA. Franchises gain credibility when they add high-profile friends. Fans who wouldn’t have otherwise given said team the time of day take notice. And while the percentage of O’Neal’s contribution to the Kings’ cause is not known, … [For more on What will Shaquille O'Neal bring to Sacramento Kings?, click here.]