Oct 18, 2011, 1:06 PM EDT
What is it with former NBA players who want to own NBA teams in markets where everyone else is trying to escape?
You’ve got Michael Jordan in Charlotte (a once good market where George Shin salted the earth) and now you’ve got Shaquille O’Neal is talking about Newark. Shaq is from New Jersey and Newark has a team — the New Jersey Nets — for one more season, then they are off to Brooklyn.
Shaq talked to the New York Times and said he still plans to buy an NBA team someday.
Yes. And I’m looking forward to bringing a team to Newark. I haven’t spoken to Mayor Booker about it yet, but I’m working on it. I know Newark can support an N.B.A. team. And I’m going to be one of the guys that’s going to bring a team there.
The Nets averaged 14,179 people per game last season, which was 80.6 percent of the building capacity (sixth lowest percentage in the league). Newark didn’t look like a strong market. To be fair, they had a team renting space in town until they could go to Brooklyn, so why should fans turn out? That said, Oklahoma City turned out in force when hurricane Katrina forced a temporary Hornets relocation, and that energy paved the way for the Thunder to come to town (screwing over Seattle fans in the process).
Take this with some salt. It’s not that Shaq doesn’t want to bring a team to Newark, it’s that he wants to do a lot of things and his follow through is not always there. Don’t take my word for it, ask Kobe.