Shaquille O'Neal returned to the Orlando Magic on Friday to be inducted into the franchise's Hall of Fame.
O'Neal was drafted by the Magic in 1992 and helped lead the team to the 1995 NBA Finals. O'Neal left the Magic in 1996 to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's unexpected because I came here to win. We won games, and then I made a business decision," said O'Neal, who becomes the third member of the Magic's hall, joining co-founder Pat Williams and first-ever draft pick Nick Anderson. "It's never personal. The [team owner Rich] DeVos family knows that. And I accomplished [a championship] somewhere else. It's not like I didn't think they weren't going to be upset or anything. But it's business. It was all business.
"Do I regret it? I never fully answer it. I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed? I actually wish they made it a law that whoever drafts you, you gotta stay there your whole career."
O'Neal said the DeVos family deserves "a couple" of championships and that the Magic's 1995 Finals team, which also featured a core of Penny Hardaway and Anderson, had a chance to get back.
"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."
The NBA changed their rules concerning players coming off a rookie contract after O'Neal left the Magic.
"I wish I would have had more patience," he said. "I wanted to be protected from the bashing. What I mean by that is I wanted to win then. Even when I got [to Los Angeles], I still got bashed. It took four years to win. But I was very impatient. I was very young, and I thought that if I go there, with those guys out there, I could win right away and that wasn't the case.
"Now that I'm older now, I wish as a youngster I would have had more patience."