Saturday, August 6, 2011
Shaquille O'Neal To Los Angeles - The Original Decision
Well, here's a video that'll ruin any Magic fan's Saturday from the middle of July 1996. The guy who posted this clip spliced together some pretty rare footage. You can see how nervous Shaquille O'Neal is throughout that press conference (he broke the microphone). O'Neal looks like he has a dead body in his hotel room. He's so uncomfortable and on several occasions apologizes to the Orlando community and Magic fans.
I do give him credit for expressing his gratitude to the Magic organization, owner Rich DeVos, Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson, and Dennis Scott. Then he denied any feuding between him and Brian Hill. Then Shaq deservedly ripped hard into the Orlando Sentinel and our local media for the idiotic polls and coverage they provided that made the situation much worse.
Jerry West comparing signing Shaq to the birth of his children makes me want to vomit. Unlike LeBron James' hyped free agency decision, this one came up pretty suddenly. It was a tug of war battle between Orlando and L.A. after our front office didn't believe any basketball player was worth the kind of money Shaq wanted (which was $100 million at the time). It didn't help that the Chicago Bulls had swept us out of the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals, where we had high hopes of reaching the Finals again.
The Lakers sensed an opportunity, Jerry West worked some of his magic, and by the time Orlando came back with a 9-digit offer, it was too late and Hollywood had won. Once O'Neal was emotionally hurt, it was basically over. Shaq was in Atlanta on Team USA duty since the Summer Olympics were being held in that city. So that's why ATL was the chosen venue for the announcement.
Let's just pray that we don't see Dwight Howard in a similar situation.