The article is a tad premature, given that O'Neal still plays for the Phoenix Suns and can't exactly invest in a basketball team. But O'Neal has talked to New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek, and Steve Politi sets the scene:
Imagine the Nets finally giving up their Brooklyn fantasy and moving to the Rock with one of the all-time greats in uniform. Imagine Shaq, after he decides to retire, staying with the franchise as a part owner, his smiling face on billboards and his hulking frame sitting in courtside seats.
The thought has certainly occurred to O'Neal, who already is heavily involved in real estate ventures in the city and has a strong interest in getting involved in the business side of the sport.
"Yes. Yes. Yes," O'Neal said in a phone interview when asked if he wanted to get into ownership when he retired.
And if that team could be the Nets ...
"It'd be nice -- real nice," he said. "I know the area, I know the people, it's close to New York. Every organization needs two things: a great place to play and a couple of marquee players. You have that, and it's a no brainer."
Increased pessimism about AY
That's not exactly a full-fledged plan, but, on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, the pessimism about the Brooklyn move has grown. "[F]ew outside the organization believe they're getting to Brooklyn any more," Politi writes.
"The best thing to do is wait and let it take care of itself," Sen. Richard Codey the state senate president, told the newspaper. "With Brooklyn looking like Dorothy from Kansas, they'll have to make a financial decision soon."
Last week, as DDDB reminds us, Codey said, "I think it’s a race to see which project is put in the grave first: the Brooklyn [Barclays] arena or [the Meadowlands' project] Xanadu."
The clock ticks
Forest City Enterprises stock, seesawing for weeks, was down a mere 21.42% yesterday. The Nets' losses continue. Earlier this month, Crain's New York Business Editorial Director Greg David observed, "If those [legal] challenges are not dismissed before March, the project will be in trouble."
He didn't give a rationale, and it's certainly possible that the project could survive even if legal cases linger. However, the clock is ticking.