Shaq inducted into Magic Hall of Fame; regrets leaving 'City Beautiful' for Hollywood glitz & glamour

Headline Surfer® / YouTube download / video by Sports Talk Florida /  Click the video above to watch Shaquille O'Neal reflect on his NBA start with the Orlando Magic as part of his Hall of Fame team induction Friday night at the Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The 7-footer expressed regret that he left Orlando for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006, a year after he and his teammates made it all the way to the NBA Finals for the first time where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. Shaq also is shown below with team CEO Alex Martens in this Orlando Magic photo op.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With four NBA rings, Shaquille O'Neal doesn't owe anyone any apologies. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have any regrets.

After all, he did lead the Magic to the NBA Finals early on, only to be swept by the Houston Rocket, after which he bolted the City Beautiful for the Hollywood glitz and glamour of the Los Angeles Lakers. And while that 1995 Magic squad came up short, O'Neal may have regret, but there's no doubt as to his eventual championship success -- three rings with LA and a fourth with the Miami Heat.

The Orlando Magic inducted the perennial NBA All-Star into its Hall of Fame on Friday at the Amway Center before the current squad took to the court against the Detroit Pistons. O'Neal became the third inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. In addition to the induction ceremony, O'Neal was honored during the Magic's matchup vs. the Pistons later in the evening. Orlando's No. 1 overall selection of LSU in the 1991 NBA Draft, O'Neal was thrilled to be back home again with his new-found status: Magic Hall of Famer.

Shaq, in fact, is only the third Magic inductee behind 2014 selections Pat Williams, the co-team founder, and Nick Anderson, the team's first-ever first-round draft choice, 11th overall, back in 1989.

"It's a great honor and really, really unexpected," O'Neal said.

"When I got the call, I couldn't believe it," O'Neal explained. "But me and the DeVos family, we kept a close relationship even after I left in 1996. We've done a lot of business together and personal things together."

O'Neal continued with the affection: "The DeVoses were always a first-class family and (it's) a first-class organization."

Selected by Orlando with the first overall pick of the 1992 NBA Draft, O'Neal starred for the Magicas its franchise center from 1992-96, before leaving as an unrestricted free agent and signing with the Los Angeles Lakers where he cemented his legacy as a one of the all-time greats with three straight NBA championships.

Shaq as No. 1 pick of Orlando Magic / Headline Surfer®Shaquille O'Neal, the No. 1 overall pick out of LSU in the 1991 NBA Draft by Orlando, was thrilled with his new-found status as a Magic Hall of Famer. He's only the third inductee behind 2014 inductees Pat Williams, the co-team founder, and Nick Anderson, the team's first-ever first-round election, picked 11th overall back in 1989.

"It's a great honor and really, really unexpected," O'Neal said Friday at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. "When I got the call, I couldn't believe it. But me and the DeVos family, we kept a close relationship even after I left in 1996. We've done a lot of business together and personal things together. The DeVoses were always a first-class family and (it's) a first-class organization."

O'Neal was named an NBA All-Star four times as a member of the Orlando Magic, named to the All-NBA Second Team once (1994-'95) and All-NBA Third Team twice (1993-'94, 1995-'96). He was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1992-'93, after being named the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

O'Neal led the Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals where they were swept by veteran center Akeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

The Magic would return to the NBA Finals in 2009, this time with as the star center, Dwight Howard, but lost in five games to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers.

Regrets exit after 1995 heartbreak: Magic reached NBA Finals only to be swept

Shaq acknowledged during his Orlando Magic Hall of Fame honor "the heartbreak in '95" when the Magic lost to the far more potent Rockets in the NBA finals, adding he regrets having left the team in 1996, via free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers despite a core that included himself, Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson.

"That's why I kind of regret it, because we had a young, fabulous team," O'Neal explained. "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."

Shaq with LA Lakers / Headline Surfer®Shaq acknowledged "the heartbreak in '95" when the Magic lost in the NBA finals to the Houston Rockets, adding he regrets leaving the team in 1996, via free agency for the Los Angeles Lakers where he won three consecutive NBA championships, despite a core on the Magic that included himself, Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson.

"That's why I kind of regret it, because we had a young, fabulous team," O'Neal explained. "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."

During his tenure with the Magic, O'Neal appeared in 295 regular season games (293 starts), averaging 27.2 points per game., 12.5 rebounds pg., 2.4 assists pg. and 2.79 blocks pg. in 37.8 minutes pg., while shooting .581 (3,208-5,522 FG) from the floor.

O'Neal ranks among the franchise's all-time leaders in several categories, including rebounding (second, 3,691), blocked shots (second, 824), field goals made (third, 3,208) and points scored (fifth, 8,019). Shaq's 27.2 points per game average is the second-highest in team history and he helped Orlando reach the 1995 NBA Finals.

"The Orlando Magic are honored to recognize those who have made significant contributions to our history," Magic CEO Alex Martins said Friday.

"Shaq made a tremendous impact on our franchise during his time with us and we are thrilled to recognize him as our third inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame," Martens continued. He carries on a great legacy of those who made the greatest contribution to the rich history of the Orlando Magic."

Alex Martens / Hedline Surfer®"The Orlando Magic are honored to recognize those who have made significant contributions to our history," Magic CEO Alex Martins, shown here at left, said Friday of Shaquille O'Neal and other Magic greats before and after him. "Shaq made a tremendous impact on our franchise during his time with us and we are thrilled to recognize him as our third inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. He carries on a great legacy of those who made the greatest contribution to the rich history of the Orlando Magic."

The Magic unveiled its inaugural Hall of Fame class on April 9, 2014, naming the first two inductees, Magic co-founder and Senior Vice President Pat Williams and the team's first-ever draft pick and current Community Ambassador Nick Anderson.

Trish Wingerson, the Magic's assistant director of communications, explained how Hall of Famers are chosen: "The Magic Hall of Fame honors and celebrates the great players, coaches and executives who have had a major impact during the team's illustrious 26-year history," Wingerson said. "The inductees are selected based on their overall on and off the court contributions to the team and organization, years of service, impact in the community and general character of the individual."

Shaq career highlights / Headline Surfer®Shaq career highlights / Headline Surfer®FAST FACTS: Shaq's NBA Career
Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal (born in Newark, NJ, March 6, 1972), nicknamed "Shaq," is a retired National Basketball Association player, former rapper, actor, TV ad pitchman  & current analyst on the TNT studio show, "Inside the NBA."

Standing 7 feet 1 & weighing 325 pounds, Shaq, drafted first overall in the 1992 by the Orlando Magic, O'Neal was one of the heaviest and most imposing competitors ever to play in the NBA.

Shaq played for six teams during his 19-year NBA career, during which he earned four NBA championship rings: Three in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers and a fourth with the Miami Heat.

Here are bulleted highlights of Shaq's career:

• Following a stand-out career at Louisiana State University, drafted by the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft.
• Became one of the best centers in the NBA, winning rookie of the year in 1992-'93, and later leading the Orlando Magic to the 1995 NBA Finals, losing to the Houston Rockets.
• After four years with the Magic, signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning three consecutive championships in 2000-2002.
• Amid tension with Kobe Bryant, traded to the Miami Heat in 2004, and won fourth NBA championship in 2006.
• Midway through the 2007-'08 season, traded to the Phoenix Suns.
• After a season-and-a-half with the Suns, traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009-'10 season.
• Played for the Boston Celtics in the 2010-'11 season, before retiring.
• Individual accolades include the 1999-2000 MVP award, the 1992-'93 NBA Rookie of the Year award, 15 All-Star game selections, three All-Star Game MVP awards, three Finals MVP awards, two scoring titles, 14 All-NBA team selections, and three NBA All-Defensive Team selections.
• One of only three players to win NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year (2000); the other players are Willis Reed in 1970 and Michael Jordan in 1996 & 1998.
• Ranks 6th all-time in points scored, 5th in field goals, 13th in rebounds, and 7th in blocks. Largely due to his ability to dunk the basketball, O'Neal also ranks 3rd all-time in field goal percentage (58.2%).
 
Did You Know?
In addition to his basketball career, O'Neal has released four rap albums, with his first, "Shaq Diesel," going platinum.
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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.