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Shaq Wants to Bring an NBA Team to Newark

BOSTON, MA - MAY 07: Shaquille O'Neal #36 of the Boston Celtics warms up before Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Shaquille O'Neal; Shaquille O'Neal.

Newark, for now, still has an NBA team. (Well, technically, thanks to the lockout, no city has an actual team of NBA players right now, but you know what we mean.) Next year, however, the Nets will pack up and move to Brooklyn, and the Prudential Center will once again be left without an NBA franchise. And Shaquille O'Neal would like to do something about that.

Here's O'Neal, who's spoken before about wanting to own a team someday, in response to a question from the Times about whether that's still the case:

Yes. And I’m looking forward to bringing a team to Newark. I haven’t spoken to Mayor Booker about it yet, but I’m working on it. I know Newark can support an N.B.A. team. And I’m going to be one of the guys that’s going to bring a team there.

This isn't the first time he's talked about how Newark should have an NBA team. Back in January 2009, when the Nets were still playing at the Meadowlands, he wondered why the team wasn't playing at the new Prudential Center. In that interview, in which he expressed interest in one day owning a team, he said that "if I was the general manager or the owner of that team, I'd be playing in Newark right now." The following year, he suggested that perhaps he could broker a deal to keep the Nets in Newark. (Said Shaq at the time: "Maybe the two heads can get together, they can do that and I can come down there and become general manager.") Shaq, of course, grew up in Newark, and more recently his development company has been involved with projects in the city, including the expansion of the Newark Screens movie theater.

Alas, his dream of keeping the Nets in Newark would appear to be dead. But it seems his dream of owning a Newark-based NBA team is not. But considering that would mean a third NBA team in the New York metropolitan area — and considering the Nets have struggled to draw fans in New Jersey with only two teams in the area — we'd advise again holding your breath waiting for his dream becomes a reality.

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Photo: Elsa