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Shaquille O’Neal got his start with the Orlando Magic in 1992 in a reported seven-year deal worth $40 million. Four years went by and O’Neal became a free agent. Both the Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers fought to sign him, and in the end, O’Neal inked a presumed $120 million contract. His upbringing in a military household played a part in his final choice, and so did the Lakers’ legacy. “Change is for the good,” O’Neal said at a press conference, via ESPN. “I’m a military child, so I’m used to relocating every, you know, three or four years and the Lakers have a great tradition.”
O’Neal spent eight seasons with the Lakers, which included a three-championship winning streak. His trade to the Miami Heat afterward was rumored to have been because of an existing feud with his fellow Laker Kobe Bryant, one which was further fueled when O’Neal told reporters he was in the South Florida city to find a home in a team. O’Neal would eventually vow to make a life change after Bryant’s death.
When he was inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame long after retirement, O’Neal looked back at his exit remorsefully.”I regret it sometimes.” he shared. “If I had known what I know now, I would have stayed. I would have stayed and fulfilled my seven years and then looked at it differently after my seventh year.”