The announcement of a former opponent-turned-owner is described as ‘exciting’ by forward-guard Peja Stojakovic, three-time All-Star player representing Sacramento Kings.

Shaquille O’Neal, one of NBA’s most exciting and high-profile players, picked up ownership stakes in Sacramento Kings. The Los Angeles Lakers star appeared with Kings majority owner and Indian-born technology tycoon, Vivek Ranadive, to announce the partnership on Tuesday.

The announcement of a former opponent-turned-owner is described as ‘exciting’ by forward-guard Peja Stojakovic, three-time All-Star player representing Sacramento Kings in the NBA. “I think owning a club is a pretty big investment and hard to say who can follow it his footsteps. Shaquille is a very entertaining person. The decision will help market the Kings’ franchise.”

Belgrade-born Peja, NBA draft in 1996 and famous for three-pointers, claims the decision is right, though he offers little insights into Shaquille’s off-court qualities. “Sacramento is trying to build a competitive NBA team. The owner (Vivek Ranadive) is from India, he is very proud of the club. The main thing is they are able to keep the team in high spirits.”

“Sacramento is a small city and the club is short on national exposure and corporate sponsorship. They are tying to gain wider exposure in the US and worldwide.” Peja adds: “I can’t visualise him (Shaquille) as an owner. He was always a funny guy, an amazing player. I heard about him being a smart business guy and don’t know him that well to comment on other aspects of his decision.”

Sacramento’s future moves will be tracked by Indian basketball followers ever since Ranadive, founder-CEO of TIBCO Software Inc, bought a controlling stake in the NBA team this May. Shaquille as part-owner is in line with recent decisions by him to give the club a new identity, appointing a new general manager, head coach and players. It is learnt that Shaquille will mentor DeMarcus Cousins, one of NBA’s new sensations.

A member of Yugoslavia men’s gold winning squad at 2002 FIBA World Championships (beating USA in the quarterfinal and Argentina in the final at Indianapolis), Peja was a draft pick for Sacramento, represented New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors and won the 2011 NBA title with Dallas Mavericks.

Asked about NBA face-offs against the Lakers star, he said: “Shaq cost me a title. There was a time we could have got past Lakers, but ended up second best, which was not nice.” The Yugoslav three-pointer ace was in Mumbai, along with NBA greats Horace Grant and Ron Harper, for the NBA Jam national final on September 29.

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