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SHAQ BRINGING ACT TO L.A. COVETED CENTER SIGNS $120 MILLION CONTRACT WITH LAKERS.

Byline: Marc Stein Daily News Staff Writer

In perhaps the biggest summer blockbuster Hollywood has ever seen, the Lakers on Thursday signed free-agent center Shaquille O'Neal away from the Orlando Magic.

With a staggering seven-year offer worth slightly more than $120 million, the Lakers established a new record for guaranteed contracts in professional team sports and re-established themselves as NBA title contenders.

``To me, change is for the good,'' O'Neal said at a news conference in Atlanta, where he'll compete in the Olympics before coming to town in early August.

``The Lakers have a great tradition, a great big-man tradition,'' he said. ``I just want to go there and play hard.''

O'Neal joins a long line of famous Lakers centers, starting with George Mikan when the franchise was located in Minneapolis and continuing with Wilt Chamberlain and then Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Inglewood.

``There's one word that I've always thought was used very loosely, and that is `superstar,' '' said Lakers executive vice president Jerry West. ``But today, the Los Angeles Lakers have acquired a 24-year-old superstar.''

Said O'Neal: ``This is going to be one of the hardest decisions of my life . . . but I think I made the right decision.''

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PHOTO (color) Shaquille O'Neal

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 19, 1996
Words:210
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