Shaq-tastic: How Does the General Fare Under Shaq’s Ownership?


Shaquille O’Neal, aka ‘Shaq’, is one of the most well-known names in the NBA. Not only was he a four-time Champion, but he was also the 2000 NBA MVP and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. After retiring from basketball in 2011, Shaq has gone on to be an entrepreneur, business mogul, and philanthropist. In 2011, Shaq purchased a minority stake in the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, becoming the team’s third-largest shareholder. In 2014, Shaq’s ownership stake jumped to a majority share, making him the team’s new majority owner. So how has the team fared under Shaq’s ownership? In this article, we’ll take a look at the past few seasons and break down the positives and negatives of Shaq’s tenure as owner of the Atlanta Hawks.

The Good

Despite having a difficult start to his ownership, Shaq has managed to turn the Hawks into one of the most successful franchises in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have made the playoffs in each of the last five seasons under his ownership, a feat they had not achieved since 2007. The Hawks have also been able to make it further in the playoffs each year, culminating in an Eastern Conference Semifinals appearance in 2016, the team’s deepest run in the playoffs in nearly a decade. This success can be attributed to several factors, the most important of which is the guidance of head coach Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer’s system emphasizes ball movement and three-point shooting, and he has been able to piece together a balanced roster that can compete on both sides of the ball.

The other factor has been the team’s willingness to take risks. Shaq has shown a willingness to be aggressive in acquiring talent, most notably by trading away an established player in Al Horford to acquire the up-and-coming Paul Millsap in 2013. He has also been willing to spend money on players, signing sharpshooter Kyle Korver to a multiyear contract in 2014 and trading for star point guard Dennis Schroder in 2016. These moves have greatly strengthened the team’s roster, and have allowed the Hawks to make deep playoff runs.

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Shaq has also done a great job of increasing the team’s visibility. Under his ownership, the team has entered into several high-profile partnerships with various companies, including Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and Nike. In addition, Shaq has used his celebrity status to help promote the team, appearing in various television commercials and attending games in a larger-than-life capacity. This has helped to further boost the team’s profile, making them a more attractive destination for free agents and giving them more exposure.

The Bad

While there have been many positives of Shaq’s tenure as owner, there have also been some negatives. One of the biggest issues has been the team’s inability to keep their star players. Since acquiring the team in 2014, Shaq has watched as the Hawks have lost Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Thabo Sefolosha to free agency. This has caused the team to take a step back in terms of competitiveness, as they have been forced to rely on younger, less experienced players to fill the void left by these players.

Another issue has been the team’s inability to attract big-name free agents. Despite being one of the most successful teams in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks have been unable to attract big-name free agents in recent years. This is likely due to the team’s smaller market size and the lack of star power on the roster. Without the ability to bring in top-tier talent, the Hawks have been unable to take that next step and become a legitimate championship contender.

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The Ugly

One of the biggest issues during Shaq’s tenure as owner has been the team’s handling of the controversy surrounding former GM Danny Ferry. Ferry was fired in 2015 after he made racially insensitive remarks about Luol Deng, one of the team’s main targets in free agency. This was an embarrassing situation for the franchise and it damaged the team’s reputation, both locally and nationally. Many felt that Shaq should have done more to address the situation, but instead he chose to stand by Ferry and remained mostly silent on the issue.

Another issue has been the team’s inability to connect with their fan base. Despite the team’s success, the fan base has remained relatively small and disengaged. This could be due to a number of factors, including the team’s lack of star power, their small market size, or their decision to move away from their signature “Pac-Man” logo and branding. Whatever the reason, the Hawks have struggled to build a passionate fan base and have had difficulty maintaining the enthusiasm of current fans.

The Future

Looking ahead, the future appears to be bright for the Hawks. The team is still in the midst of a rebuild and may take a few years to reach their full potential, but they have the pieces in place to become one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Shaq has remained committed to building a winner and he has been willing to take risks to acquire top-tier talent. If he can do this and continue to build a strong fan base, the Hawks may be able to take that next step and become a legitimate championship contender.

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Shaq has been the majority owner of the Atlanta Hawks for the past five years, and his tenure has been far from perfect. While the team has seen an uptick in success on the court, they have also faced some significant challenges, both on and off the court. The team has struggled to keep its star players, failed to attract big-name free agents, and have had difficulty connecting with their fan base. However, despite these issues, the future appears to be bright for the Hawks. Shaq has continued to show commitment to the team and has been willing to take risks to acquire top-tier talent. If he can continue to do this, the Hawks may be able to achieve the success they have been striving for in recent years.

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