NBA: How the stingy Orlando Magic scared O’Neal

On July 18, 1996, Shaquille O’Neal agreed on a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, turning his back on the Orlando Magic as a free agent. The Magic had it in hand to hold one of the most dominant centers of all time. Only they played their cards completely wrong – in contrast to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Is Shaquille O’Neal worth $ 115 million over seven years?” With this question on the front page the Orlando Sentinel In mid-July 1996 to his readership, primarily fans of the Orlando Magic. A little more than 5000 people register by telephone with the daily newspaper, which publishes the result a few days later.

The answer to this simple question is clear – but not as you would expect it to be almost a quarter of a century later. A whopping 91.3 percent of callers vote for a clear “No”. On average $ 16.4 million a year for just one player? “Crazy,” a caller sums up the idea.

At the end of the 1990s, this is an almost unimaginable salary for a basketball professional Sentinel Deal under discussion in times of an ever increasing salary cap (at least until before the corona crisis) almost like a mess. Especially for a player of a Shaq caliber.

The Big Diesel was a beast even then. In his first four years in the Association in the jersey of the Orlando Magic, O’Neal maltreated his opponents in rows, his yield of 27.2 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks at 58.1 percent from the field can do more than let see.

The center did not dismantle in the years that followed. On the contrary. He became one of the best big men ever to dominate the NBA zones, won a total of four championships, won three MVP finals. The Magic let this player go in the summer of 1996. Because they’re too stingy.

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