Shaquille O’Neal Continues to Work on Bringing an NBA Team to Newark

The details are murky, if non-existent, but Shaq continues to tell anyone who will ask that his dream of bringing an NBA team to his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, is still very much alive. From the Star-Ledger: “Shaquille O’Neal, never shy to re-brand himself in the moment, didn’t hesitate to think of a new nickname to dub himself if the former perennial NBA All-Star can accomplish the latest goal he has in mind. ‘The black Ray Chambers,’ he said. Chambers, a billionaire philanthropist, co-owner of the Devils and a former Nets owner, helped move the Devils to Newark. O’Neal, a native of the city, wants to deliver a professional team as well. He said he is working to bring an NBA team to the Prudential Center, where he appeared today as an honoree of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark. O’Neal first dropped hints of that goal last year, and the pursuit is still on. With the Nets set to migrate to Brooklyn next season, the arena will be short an NBA tenant. ‘Yes, still working on it, still having conversations and still doing certain things to help beautify this city,’ O’Neal said. ‘When the time is right, we’ll have a party. I don’t want to say things that are out of pretext or context. There’s things going on, we’re working on it, trust me. We’re working on it every day.’ The desire is apparent. Always one for big proclamations, he said if a team arrives ‘we’ll have the biggest party Newark has ever seen.’ But O’Neal also took to filibustering when asked how the plan would come together, corking the details rather than divulging them under prodding. His role in the process still seems unsettled. He wouldn’t say if it was a new franchise in the works, giving the league an odd number of teams unless paired with another, or if a current organization would be dropping in. ‘It would be as an owner, possible general manager, possibly introducing some people to some people,’ O’Neal said. ‘A couple of years ago I tried to help the marriage of the Nets to the Newark arena when I just made the statement, ‘How come the Nets are not playing in this arena?’ It was too late. But if I had been in those conversations earlier, hopefully the Nets would still be playing (in Newark).’ With specifics scant, the realistic chances of O’Neal bringing a team to the city are dubious to some.”