Shaquille O’Neal has become a new minority owner of the Sacramento Kings as revealed by USA Today‘s Sam Amick. Today, Shaq will be meeting with executives and players in Sacramento. Later tonight, Shaq will have dinner with Kings centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins as he attempts to turn Cousins into his California protÃ©gÃ©.
The self-proclaimed “Dr. O’Neal” is looking to tutor his protÃ©gÃ© after acquiring less-than controlling interest in the team he dubbed the Sacramento “Queens” before the 2002-03 season.
That jocular nickname came after O’Neal and his Lakers teammates eliminated the Rick Adelman-coached Kings in 2000, 2001 and 2002. After becoming minority owner â€” along with new majority owner Vivek Ranadive, minority owner and 24-Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, new general manager Pete D’Alessandro and new coach Mike Malone â€” O’Neal will attempt to resuscitate the franchise after the Maloof brothers recent follies.
“What interested me in this deal is the new vision, the new Kings, the new everything,” O’Neal told Amick. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this. … It’s going to be great.”
Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reported via Twitter that O’Neal will be formally introduced as the new Kings minority owner at a press conference tomorrow.
The Kings will introduce @SHAQ as a member of the ownership group tomorrow. Guess he'll see DeMarcus Cousins for sure.
— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) September 23, 2013
O’Neal, with his usual bluster, is excited to improve a team recently ranked dead last by ESPN among all NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL professional sports teams.
“Hopefully Vivek, with Mr. Mastrov and myself and the team and organization can get it back to where it used to be. I’m telling you these new plans, oh my. You’re going to be like, ‘Sacramento is doing what?’ That’s what we want people to say.”
The Big Aristotle touched on his past battling the Kings, too.
“(The Lakers and Kings) did have some great battles, and fans need to understand that those (‘Sacramento Queens’) comments that I made and all that stuff, it was for them,” Shaq continued. “I’ve always been an expert at marketing, so a Laker-vs. Sacramento Kings, I wanted it to be the most watched game ever.
“But right now, (the Kings are) down, and they have new ownership, and we’re going to bring it back up. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be a destination place that people want to see.”
O’Neal does have a knack for marketing â€” usually himself â€” but it remains to be seen whether he can do the same for the Kings franchise.
Shaq can start things off on a good note by turning DeMarcus Cousins into a low-post force. The Kings will have to decide whether or not to offer Cousins a max extension before the October 31 deadline. All signs point towards Cousins’ agent, Dan Fegan, seeking the maximum allowable like he did for his other client looking for a rookie-scale extension this summer, John Wall.
If the Kings don’t extend Cousins before November, they’ll have to take their chances with him as a restricted free agent this summer. But maybe Shaq can play a role in Cousins’ maturation, and he’ll play so well this year, the Kings will have no choice but to ink him to the max. It’s a win-win for team and player, and it’ll go a long way towards making O’Neal a bonafide positive for the new Kings ownership group.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.