LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal Express Interest in Owning NBA Expansion Team in Las Vegas
Superstars LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal are eyeing ownership opportunities in Las Vegas
LeBron James, one of the most prominent figures in the NBA, has long been associated with the possibility of an expansion team in Las Vegas. However, he is not the only player interested in potentially owning a team in the city. Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal has also expressed his desire to run a team in Las Vegas, but with a unique condition. O’Neal stated, “I would like to have my own group. I don’t want to partner up with nobody. I want it all for myself.”
Recently, O’Neal slightly altered his stance, stating, “If there’s ever an NBA team that’s going to come here, I would definitely like to be involved. With LeBron, without LeBron, I just want to be involved.”
In 2022, LeBron James openly campaigned for a potential Las Vegas team after playing a preseason game in the city. Rumors have circulated that James may collaborate with the Fenway Sports Group, with whom he previously partnered to acquire a stake in British soccer team Liverpool in 2011, to purchase an NBA expansion team.
James and O’Neal were former teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2009-10 season. While O’Neal retired from playing, he became a minority owner of the Sacramento Kings from 2013 to 2022. Currently, O’Neal works as a broadcaster on TNT’s Inside the NBA, while James continues to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. It is likely that James would need to retire before taking over another team.
As a minority owner with the Kings, O’Neal did not hold any significant front office power. However, James would presumably seek some degree of control over the basketball operations of any team he purchases. It is worth noting that no current NBA player holds majority ownership or governorship of a franchise since Michael Jordan’s sale of the Charlotte Hornets. Several former players, such as Dwyane Wade with the Utah Jazz and Grant Hill with the Atlanta Hawks, own minority stakes in teams, indicating the possibility of multiple former players owning minority stakes in a single team.
While both O’Neal and James are interested in joining ownership groups, it is too early to predict who will ultimately control any new teams in Las Vegas or other potential expansion markets. The NBA’s current focus is on finalizing a new national media rights deal, which may pave the way for expansion discussions. Las Vegas and Seattle are considered the most likely markets to receive teams.