SACRAMENTO — Shaquille O'Neal spent the first part of the century smashing Sacramento's dreams of an NBA championship. Now he wants to spend the next part doing anything he can to build the Kings into a winner.
Declaring the new name of the city "Shaqramento," O'Neal began by taking steps in his size 22 shoes Tuesday to make amends to Kings fans for his past verbal swipes. The new minority owner of the Kings said he just wanted to rile up people and market the game when he called the franchise the "Sacramento Queens" while winning three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"I apologize," O'Neal said. "If you see me around town, come give me a hug, give me a kiss. I'll do whatever you want."
The 15-time All-Star center promised to use the same brand that bullied Sacramento for years to bring positive attention to California's capital city.
O'Neal's larger-than-life personality did just that on his first day on the job. He attracted a crowd of about 75 reporters, with TV trucks fighting for the closest parking space outside Sacramento's suburban practice facility and about a dozen fans trying to sneak into the parking lot.