It sounds strange to anybody that followed the Kings and Lakers rivalry over the last decade, but the “Shaqramento” era took off on Tuesday in Sacramento, where minority owner and team consultant Shaquille O’Neal introduced himself to the media.
As quotatious and loquacious as ever, Shaq sounded less like the sometimes tongue-tied analyst we see on TNT and more like a modern day business man and teacher.
Perhaps the biggest question from today’s presser was what he can do to help teach DeMarcus Cousins how to turn the page and lead the Kings back into the playoffs.
“When I look at DeMarcus Cousins I see a young Shaquille O’Neal, a guy that was very talented, very stubborn in his ways. I know sometimes he gets a bad rap, but what changed me — what made me become a winner and a champion — was a conversation,” O’Neal said. “When I had a conversation with a guy that won a championship, that changed my whole perspective. And that guy was Phil Jackson.”
Now Shaq hopes to be the Zen-master for Cousins, constantly referring to the “conversation” as the first step and downplaying the on-court teachings.
“My relationship with DeMarcus will be talking every day, but adding “I’m not going to be in his face every day,” Shaq said.
“(DeMarcus) knows that I know what I’m talking about. A lot of these guys, when I would have a conversation with people, they didn’t really understand what it takes so I was reluctant to listen to them. But once Phil came in, coming off six championships. I knew he knew what he was talking about and everything he told me I went and displayed it on the court — and everything he said that was going to happen it did happen. And we were able to get our three.”
Getting Cousins, who attended dinner with O’Neal, owners Vivek Ranadive and Mark Mastrov and CA governor Jerry Brown last night, to buy in is just one aspect of O’Neal’s presence on the team.
Shaq is also being brought on board to send a message that the Kings are well past ready to turn the page on their recent history. The Kings were all but abandoned by their former owners, the Maloofs, and after years of relocation drama the organization is going to great lengths to show fans and media that they’re all about winning.
Vivek addressed that perception when he was asked about the recent ESPN the Magazine franchise rankings that called the Kings the worst franchise in sports. ESPN admittedly based it on old data from last year.
“(ESPN) should join the 21st century. Who want’s yesterday’s news?”
Vivek and Shaq both made bold proclamations that the new arena in Sacramento, which is on track to open in 2016 for all intents and purposes, will be among the top arenas in the world. They added that there will be an indoor/outdoor component to it, so for certain events “18,000 people could be inside and 10,000 people could be outside.”
As for Shaq’s history of chiding Sacramento fans and in particular his comments calling the Kings ‘the Sacramento Queens,” our friends at Cowbell Kingdom have the video:
In a day that more closely resembled media day than your typical ownership announcement, it is clear the Kings are going big by bringing on one of the game’s biggest personalities.
“The first game will be televised in India,” said Shaq. “There will be over 600 million people watching. We want Sacramento to be a world-wide brand.”