Shaquille O’Neal, who spent the prime of his playing career antagonizing the Sacramento Kings and mocking them as the “Queens,” is joining her majesty’s team.
O’Neal has purchased a minority ownership stake in the Kings, USA Today reports, making him the latest celebrity owner of an NBA franchise. O’Neal’s level of control in the organization is likely to be minimal, but his role as a face of the franchise’s new leadership is sure to be significant.
The Kings were attractive to O’Neal for a number of reasons. He is with Mark Mastrov, who he partnered with in opening a batch of 24-Hour Fitness gyms in Florida, and majority owner Vivek Randive has impressed almost everyone he has met with, including Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. The $448-million arena plan — which has its opponents — elicited amazement from the Big Investor.
“I’ve seen the plans,” O’Neal told USA Today’s Sam Amick. “I don’t know if they’ve talked to you about the plans, but woo-wee. That’s all I can say, ‘woo-wee.’ Oh, you know what? That’s our new slogan. ‘Sacramento: Woo-Wee.'”
The Kings recently were labeled the worst franchise in sports by ESPN the Magazine. To O’Neal, the designation merely lessens the pressure on turning around the organization.
“Worst is at the bottom, which means you can’t get no worser,” he said.