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October 17, 2017

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Shaquille O’Neal on an NBA team in Las Vegas: ‘I would say yes and no’


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Shaquille O’Neal hosts at Azure Luxury Pool in the Palazzo on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013.

Shaquille O'Neal Hosts at Azure Luxury Pool

Shaquille O'Neal, with Launch slideshow »

Retired NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal didn’t come down on either side of the NBA debate of a team in Las Vegas when we asked him about it during his weekend appearance at Azure Luxury Pool at the Palazzo.

We asked if he thought our town could in reality support an NBA franchise.

His answer: “I would say yes and no. From the NBA business side, you don’t want to support gambling on sports. That’s what most people are afraid of. It happens in Vegas because it’s legal in Vegas, but we don’t want people doing that so much.

“The other thing on the NBA side is this is such a touristy town. All the Vegas people don’t live on the Strip; they live out. So once you have three or four marquee names who can support an arena, who can get people to not want to gamble, not do day parties, not go here and go to the game I think would be beneficial to any owner who owns a team.

“From a Vegas partygoer standpoint, it’s another great thing to do in Vegas. There’s a lot of people here, so I think it would be safe to say that 40 percent of the Vegas residents would come, 30 percent of the fans would come, and marketing dollars and marketing tickets would go to the other 30 percent to fill up the arena.

“So if you do get a team, you’re going to have to get three or four marketing experts so people can say, ‘There’s a day party with Shaq today, but they’re playing the Lakers, so I’m going to the game.’ ”

Then he smiled and dropped a real three-point zinger: “But you know it’s all about who you’ve got. If you’re like the Charlotte [Bobcats] team, nobody is coming to the game. You’re Miami Heat, everybody is coming to the game.”

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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