<
>

Shaquille O'Neal backs Jersey

Add another Jersey kid -- a very big Jersey kid -- to the list of people who don't want to see the Nets move to Brooklyn.

Shaquille O'Neal said Thursday that he'd help broker a deal to keep the Nets in Newark, the place where he spent the first 14 years of his life. He even offered to run the team after he retires.

"I would have liked to see the new owner get with the guy who built the arena and keep the Nets there," O'Neal told the Bergen County (N.J.) Record. "I don't want to see the team go to Brooklyn. Maybe the two heads can get together, they can do that and I can come down there and become general manager.

"I think the owner, the beautiful Russian guy, should get with the people of the arena and the other people and me and we should get it done."

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek have an agreement to keep the Nets in New Jersey at
Prudential Center for the next two years until the basketball arena is completed in Brooklyn in 2012.

O'Neal signed with the Celtics in the offseason and plays the Nets in an exhibition game Thursday night in Newark, where he still has family.

"We got a great owner, a great arena, let's keep it where it's at," O'Neal told the newspaper. "Not only that, I'm saving the owner money so he doesn't have to pay another $300 million to build this new arena in Brooklyn. I know he has it. Hopefully he'll stay and hopefully he'll make me general manager because I will be available in 745 days."

In an e-mail, Prokhorov told the newspaper that buying the Nets was "predicated" on moving the team to Brooklyn.

"We look forward to having the team in Newark while the Barclays Center arena is under construction, and are fully committed to New Jersey and to the fans there for the next two years," Prokhorov told the Record. "After that, we hope that fans from all over -- New Jersey, New York, and beyond -- will stick with a new Nets team that is young, strong, and hungry to win.

"Regarding the gracious offer to become general manager, Shaq is always welcome to send his résumé to [current GM] Billy King."