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What did Shaquille O’Neal say about LeBron James and an NBA expansion team in Las Vegas?

The former Magic and Lakers star and arguably the best big man of his generation made it clear he wants a piece of the pie in Las Vegas. Will he get it?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 06: Shaquille O'Neal attends a game between the LSU Lady Tigers and the Colorado Buffaloes during the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Series at T-Mobile Arena on November 06, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Buffaloes defeated the Lady Tigers 92-78.   Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Las Vegas has long been an ideal base for sports franchises in the U.S.A., and with rumors continuing to circulate about an NBA expansion team, it would appear that times haven’t changed. Indeed, now that yet another high-profile name has come to the fore, one has to imagine it’s only a matter of time before we see a move made.

Shaq wants Las Vegas all to himself

As you probably know, LeBron James has long been rumored to be interested in and part of a venture to bring an NBA expansion team to Las Vegas. What you may not have known, however, is that the Lakers star is not the only NBA star to have an interest in what Sin City has to offer. Just last month, Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal expressed an interest in actually running the team, but the way he sees fit. “I would like to have my own group,” O’Neal said at the time during a Las Vegas-based charity event. “I know Vegas hasn’t been awarded an NBA team yet, but if they ever get to a point where they are awarded a team, I would like to be a part of that. I don’t want to partner up with anybody. I want it all for myself.”

Now, while that’s all well and good, we can forgive you if you thought it was nothing more than just a bit of banter from the big man. On the other hand, this past Sunday, O’Neal made it very clear that he is in fact quite serious about the venture when had this to say: “If there’s ever an NBA team that’s going to come here, I would definitely like to be involved,” O’Neal said, according to The Messenger’s Arash Markazai. “With LeBron, without LeBron, I just want to be involved.”

OK, but what’s the deal LeBron James and Las Vegas?

Let’s rewind a bit. Back in 2022, LeBron James got tongues wagging after he openly campaigned for an expansion team in Vegas following a preseason game that he played in the city. As we know, James has on more than one occasion waded into the world of team ownership, most notably with his 2011 purchase of a 2% stake in Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, a move which saw him partner with the Fenway Sports Group. This is all to say, that a similar investment in an NBA team just seemed to make sense.

Now, it’s worth noting that James and O’Neal have actually played together during what turned out to be a single season when both men played with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009-10 season. Following retirement, O’Neal himself acquired a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings, one which he held between 2013 and 2022. To be clear, he did not have any role within the franchise’s front office i.e., it would be interesting to see what if anything he would do if granted the opportunity to be part of a Las Vegas-based franchise. Where James is concerned, we can only assume based on his previous comments that he would seek to have control over the basketball operations of any proposed team. In case you’re wondering, there is no player past or present who holds majority ownership or governorship of an NBA franchise. While there are several players who hold minority stakes in various teams, this would indeed be a first if it occurs.


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