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Magic Fans Say Shaq Not Worth Millions

Wed., July 17, 1996

By more than a 10-to-1 margin, callers responding to The Orlando Sentinel’s Sound Off question disapproved of the 7-year, $115 million deal to keep Orlando Magic center Shaquille O’Neal.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, the flood of callers opposed to the deal was 4,668 compared with only 443 supporting the expected offer.

Most, such as Orlando’s Bill Baker, didn’t think anyone was worth $115 million and that the money should be used to help the underprivileged.

“I think the Magic should give the money to the homeless. I mean, paying someone that much money is crazy,” said Baker, 63. “I think Shaq is a nice kid, but I don’t think anyone is worth that much.”

And said Alicia Eaptiste, 14, of Orlando: “As big a fan as I am of the Orlando Magic, I still can’t believe that Shaq could be worth $115 million. Doctors save lives and get a lot less, and many people work so much harder and have to live paycheck to paycheck.”

The offer would be the richest deal in NBA history, averaging $16.8 million per season and escalating to $23 million for the 2002-2003 season.

The Los Angeles Lakers also have offered O’Neal a 7-year deal worth $95.5 million.

Despite the overwhelming disapproval of the deal, a few callers considered it a necessary evil.

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