Shaquille O’Neal Becomes a Sacramento Kings’ Minority Owner
By Frederick H. Lowe
Shaquille O’ Neal, who once called the Sacramento Kings the Sacramento Queens to diminish them during the NBA season, is now a King of Queens.
O’Neal, who was introduced as a Kings’ minority owner during a news conference on Tuesday, is joining the team at an exciting time. The Kings, whose strategy is to become a global brand, will televise live theirOctober 30 season-opening game against the Denver Nuggets in India.
“India, China and Asia are our target markets,” said Vivek Ranadive, the Kings’ new majority owner. “More than 1 billion people live in India, and we will have big screens to show the game.” He later said South America also would be a key market.
The NBA has been promoting basketball in India since 2008 and the league opened an office in Mumbai, India, in 2011 because India is a huge untapped market with a large percent of its population under 25 years old.
The NBA formed a partnership with Sony, which will televise the Kings’ game throughout the country on home television sets. Because of the time difference between India and the United States, the game will be televised in the morning, but the game or parts of it will also be re-broadcast at other times during the day.
The Kings also are constructing a $488 million cashless indoor and outdoor stadium in downtown Sacramento, O’Neal said. “There won’t be a woman punching your ticket. You will enter the stadium using your mobile phone and purchase concessions with your mobile phone,” he said. Construction workers also will build the stadium from re-usable materials.
The relationship between O’Neal and Ranadive developed after Ranadive, who also is the billionaire founder and CEO of TIBCO, a real-time computing company, invited O’Neal to his home. O’Neal spent the day there. Mark Mastrov, a close friend of O’Neal, introduced the two men at O’Neal’s request.
Shortly afterwards, Ranadive asked O’Neal to become a minority partner in the NBA franchise. Ranadive’s Group purchased the Kings, who won just 28 games last season, before the team moved to Seattle.
It is not known how much of a stake O’Neal owns in the Kings. O’Neal said, however, that it is important to own a business, something he did not realize until years after Magic Johnson explained to him the importance of ownership.
“I did not understand it then, but I do now,” said O’Neal, who was introduced as Dr. Shaquille O’Neal because he earned a doctorate in education from Barry University.
Finally, O’Neal apologized for calling the Sacramento Kings the Sacramento Queens. He encouraged fans to give him a hug. O’Neal prevented the Kings from winning any NBA titles in the early 2000s, when they had a very strong team.
O’Neal revealed his sense of humor during the news conference. “From now own Sacramento will be called Shaqramento,” he said as the audience laughed.