When Shaquille O’Neal ditched the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996, the foundation was built for a dynasty in Los Angeles. Shaq was teamed up with Kobe Bryant that summer and they became one of the most dominant duos in NBA history, leading the Lakers to three consecutive championships from 2000-02.
Shaq has been vocal about his regrets of leaving the Magic in 1996, but the move to Los Angeles paid dividends as he was able to pursue an acting career and put his huge personality in the spotlight. However, according to Joel Corry of CBS Sports, O’Neal did not just have his eyes set on the bright lights of the City of Angels:
The idea was this: Identify the teams that could get to at least $9 million under the cap without gutting the roster in order to offer a seven-year, $100 million contract voidable after three years, when Shaq would have Bird rights with these teams and could thus opt out to take advantage of his presumably increasing value. Also, if he left Orlando, his preference was to go to a big market.
Shaq had compiled a wish list of his potential destinations that included the Lakers, the New York Knicks, the Detroit Pistons, the Miami Heat, and the Atlanta Hawks.
Fortunately for Los Angeles, the other teams on Shaq’s list just did not have the ability or willingness to unload the players on their roster in order to acquire Shaq.
Shaquille O’Neal eventually spurned the Magic and chose the Lakers, and the rest is history.