The franchise he once chided as the Sacramento “Queens” is now his. Well, some of it, anyway.
Shaquille O’Neal, the former NBA star who is bound for the Hall of Fame, became a minority owner of the Kings and immediately dubbed them the “Shaqramento Kings.”
“That was Shaq, that was all Shaq,” majority owner Vivek Ranadive said. “He’s a poet. He’s a great poet.”
“We’re creating the next-generation franchise here, the first franchise of the 21st century,” Ranadive said.
Ranadive said O’Neal impressed with his knowledge on a variety of topics during a visit to the owner’s home. Shaq being Shaq, he gave the owner’s daughter dating advice and helped his son with social media, while also discussing basketball.
O’Neal was dominant against the Kings when he was a Los Angeles Laker, creating extreme animosity with the Sacramento fan base.
“I was just trying to market the game, bring attention to the game,” O’Neal said. “It was nothing personal.”
He added: “We were scared of, not really the Sacramento Kings, but scared of the environment. . . It was a tough place to play. We want to bring that energy and bring that excitement back.”
The Kings are experiencing a makeover after Ranadive purchased the team for more than $530 million in May following a battle with a group that wanted to move the franchise to Seattle.
Ranadive has hired Pete D’Alessandro as general manager and Mike Malone as coach, and he recently added Hall of Famer Chris Mullin as an adviser.