8. Shaquille O’Neal signs with the Los Angeles Lakers (1996)
During his time in Orlando, Shaquille O’Neal became the NBA’s biggest superstar since Michael Jordan. Taking a relatively new franchise to the NBA Finals in just his third season. But after an injury-riddled 1995-1996 season, a variety of factors came into play, which led to O’Neal looking elsewhere when deciding where to continue his NBA career. O’Neal faced intense public scrutiny around whether he was worth a record-breaking $115 million extension from the Orlando Magic, and often felt overwhelmed with the attention he got in the small-market town. In addition, he began to believe the Magic preferred to build their franchise around the team’s other young superstar, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Eventually, O’Neal signed a seven-year, $121 million contract to join the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would win three NBA titles.