Shaquille O’Neal Says He Regrets Leaving Magic For Lakers In 1996

Portland Trailblazers  vs. Orlando Magic

In the summer of 1996, Shaquille O’Neal made a decision that would change the landscape of the NBA when he left the Orlando Magic and signed a $121 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. It took the Magic years to recover and return to the NBA Finals after Shaq’s departure.

— Think You Know Everything About Kobe Bryant? Take The Ultimate Kobe Quiz! —

On Friday, Shaq was inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame, and he expressed regret about leaving Orlando for the Lakers via Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press:

That’s why I kind of regret it, because we had a young, fabulous team,” O’Neal said. “We really did. And it’s a shame that we got torn apart. But I think about that all the time. I try not to live my life now on ‘ifs’ or ‘would’ve, should’ve,’ but do I regret leaving here in ’96, yes I do.”

Along with Shaq, that Magic team boasted the excellent backcourt of Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson and had made the Finals in 1995. Shaq, however, was impatient and wanted to win immediately:

I wanted to be protected from the bashing. What I mean by that is I wanted to win then. Even when I got (to Los Angeles) I still got bashed, it took four years to win. But I was very impatient. I was very young and I thought that if I go there, with those guys out there I could win right away and that wasn’t the case.”

It did take Shaq four years, but he would team with Kobe Bryant to form one of the best duos in NBA history. Shaq would win three rings, three Finals MVPs, and a regular season MVP. His jersey already hangs from the Staples Center rafters.

Who knows what would’ve happened had Shaq remained in Orlando, it will go down as one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in NBA history. Thankfully for Lakers fans, Shaq came to Hollywood and helped make the Lakers the premier franchise of the 2000s.

[divide]

Steve Nash Retirement Press Conference (Part Two)


Please enable Javascript to watch this video

You May Also Like

Lakers News: Magic Johnson Celebrates Anthony Davis Trade, Congratulates Rob Pelinka

When Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson took over as the president of basketball operations during the 2016-17…

Markieff Morris: Lakers ‘Need These Challenging Times’ To Find Identity

The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in a precarious situation. Despite a healthy 23-11 record on paper…

Lakers News: Luke Walton Talks About Importance Of Building Organization To Appeal To Free Agents

The last few NBA offseasons the Los Angeles Lakers have struck out on big-name free agents like Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, and LaMarcus Aldridge, among others.

Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Know When It Will Be Time To Retire

What Kobe Bryant was able to do last season as a 17-year…