clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shaq: "I regret [leaving the Magic] sometimes."

Most of this sites readers think of Shaquille O'Neal primarily as a Laker, but does he remember his career the same way?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Shaquille O'Neal's decision to leave the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency during the summer of 1996 altered the course of history for both of the teams involved, as well as the entire NBA. On the night his jersey was retired in Orlando, O'Neal acknowledged that there are times when he "regrets" his decision (as transcribed by the Associated Press):

"Do I regret it? I never fully answer it. I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed?"

"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."

O'Neal, who averaged 27 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game on 57.5% shooting as a Laker, certainly would have had a chance to win championships in Orlando like he did in Los Angeles. But without Kobe Bryant as arguably the best second option in NBA history, and Phil Jackson as his coach, it is hard to see him equaling the success he had in LA.