The NBA potentially expanding to Las Vegas has drawn the attention of a number of personalities, including Los Angeles Lakers icons Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James.
At first, O’Neal emerged as competition for James, expressing his desire to have his own ownership group and not partner up with anybody, presumably not even the four-time MVP. However, the Hall of Famer has apparently changed his mind, saying recently that he is open to teaming up, as long as he is involved in bringing an NBA franchise to Sin City.
“If there’s ever an NBA team that’s going to come here, I would definitely like to be involved,” he told The Messenger. “With LeBron, without LeBron, I just want to be involved.”
It seems O’Neal has an affinity for Las Vegas. He is currently in town to watch the Las Vegas Grand Prix, the first Formula One race to be held in the city since 1982.
He probably has another opportunity to be involved in a Las Vegas sports team, with Major League Baseball owners approving the relocation of the Oakland Athletics franchise to the famous Nevada city.
Reports have popped up that the team could welcome minority owners, but O’Neal isn’t interested in the idea, stating that he would rather be part of a basketball organization where he has a say in making the decisions.
“Not baseball,” he said. “Football maybe, basketball definitely but not baseball. I want to be involved. There are two types of owners. There’s the owner that just has the bragging rights and I’m the partial owner and there’s guys that like to make decisions. I, at some point, would like to be in on the decision-making process.”
The legendary big man’s track record as a minority owner probably won’t turn a lot of heads. He had a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings from 2013 to 2022.
Although it’s unclear how much input O’Neal had in building the roster and coaching staff, the Kings never made the playoffs once in that stretch. Even so, during that time, Sacramento was able to build the foundation of its roster that helped lead the organization to last season’s playoffs.
It remains to be seen if James is willing to be in the same ownership group as O’Neal. What’s sure is that the 19-time All-Star has been open about his desire to own a team in Las Vegas for a while now.
Becoming the first active NBA player to officially become a billionaire, James probably has enough resources to be the majority owner of a franchise by himself.
The Lakers superstar seemingly has enough gas left in his tank to play beyond this season. But it’s looking like he will still be involved in the league one way or another once he hangs up his shoes.