"I regret it sometimes. Is this where I started and should have stayed?" said O'Neal in Orlando, Fla., at his induction ceremony into the team's hall of fame, according to reports.
"I actually wish they made it a law that whoever drafts you, you've got to stay there your whole career," he said.
Of course, the notion flies in the face of free agency, a right players fought long and hard to attain, but O'Neal said he left Penny Hardaway, Nick Anderson and the core that advanced to the 1995
"That's why I kind of regret it, because we had a young, fabulous team," he 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."
O'Neal joined the Lakers on a seven-year, $120-million contract, the same year that then-General Manager
With O'Neal, the Lakers went to four NBA Finals, winning three in a row from 2000 to 2002.
O'Neal was eventually traded to the Miami Heat, where he won another title in 2006. He retired after the 2010-11 season with the
"I wish I would have had more patience," said O'Neal. "I wanted to be protected from the bashing. What I mean by that is, I wanted to win then. Even when I got [to the Lakers], 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."