Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill want to buy the Orlando Magic
Not right now. Shaq has two seasons on his deal, won’t walk away from $20 million per, may play beyond that contrary to previous reports that 2009-10 is definitely his last season, and Hill is in a contract year and interested in returning. He may not be done for a while either.
But the Suns teammates are serious about this. At some point, probably soon after they retire, O’Neal and Hill, former Magic players who still make their permanent homes in a mega-money Orlando enclave, will talk with executives to see if the team is available.
They have already talked about it together, a lot. They have already made their feelings known to CEO and president Bob Vander Weide, the son-in-law of owner Rich DeVos. They have, both report independently, already lined up additional investors.
If DeVos is open to discussing a sale, Hill and O’Neal want to be first in line. If not, the partnership will consider other teams. There’s no way to know which way it will go, not when we’re probably talking the summer of 2010 at the earliest and no one can say for certain where the economy will be headed in two months. Asking prices will change. The financial needs of owners with major investments in non-basketball entities will change.
O’Neal and Hill were always friendly — when Hill was living through one of many injury setbacks with the Magic, Shaq was a Laker and handed over keys to the gym at his house so Hill could use it anytime — and have grown closer since becoming teammates in Phoenix last season. They live a few minutes apart in Orlando. Vander Weide is in the same community.
Shaq: “Yeah, it’s serious. Grant, who’s like my best friend now, we have a relationship with the DeVos family. So we always throw out Grant president, me general manager. We always throw that out just to see what they say. Hopefully, they bite that. But if not, just put together a group and try to get something somewhere.
“I’ve mentioned it to Bob Vander Weide and he laughs. But I know they love Grant as president. I know they like that idea. I always try to ride Grant’s coat tails. Hey, Grant’s the president. He’s better looking, better spoken and can do the president. But I can be the general manager. I can get stuff done.”
Hill: “I think both of us have a lot of respect for the DeVos family and Bob Vander Weide in particular. I don’t really have any aspirations to get into management, but ownership is something that we’ve talked about. It remains to be seen whether they’ll sell the team. But if that were to happen, we’ve certainly talked amongst ourselves and talked amongst some potential investors, so we certainly could get it done. I feel kind of weird talking about it because it’s not for sale and we do have a lot of respect for the DeVos family.
“We haven’t really had any indication from them (about an interest level to sell). We’ve talked to Bob. I’ve been friends with him. Shaq as well. We’re neighbors down in Florida. We’re all in the same neighborhood. There hasn’t been any talk like that. It’s hypothetical. It could never happen. They may keep it in the family.
“It’s certainly something we’ve talked a lot about since Shaq’s come on board here. I think Orlando makes sense because we live there and we both played there. Ownership is something that we’re both interested in. We know people and we have groups and various people who are interested as well. We’ve talked about doing it ourselves. There’s no clear, concrete plan. But it’s certainly something that when we’re done playing we’ll definitely look into.
“It’s something that’s very real.”
Shaq the personnel boss. Classic.
He loves Dwight Howard. Good thing. Howard is 22 years old and already a star with the Magic.
He loves Dwyane Wade, and this is where it gets into the stuff of rotisserie leagues. Wade is with the Heat, although he can become a free agent in 2010.
He loves — wait for it! — Kobe Bryant.
Shaq swears it. He has been known to have more trouble with the truth than with free throws, but he swears. He would want Kobe on his team.
“Of course I would,” O’Neal said. “Best player in the league. Yeah, easily. I’d take him easily. Especially now. He’s developed to be the best player in the league, by far.”
(Can a guy be fined for tampering on behalf of a team he isn’t even with?)
Also: Both would consider Miami an ideal alternative because of proximity to Orlando, but Shaq, who played there, doesn’t think the Arison family would sell. If that did come through, the bonus for O’Neal would be the chance to fire Pat Riley. His big smile and several sinister laughs at the possibility said as much.