These days, that distinction belongs to the New Jersey Nets.
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Asked why he's interested in the Nets, Howard responded, "We're not talking about the Nets right now. We're talking about the Magic. That's the team I play for. There's no need to talk about any other team, who is interested in them or not. So I'm not going to get into a discussion about it."
But while Howard does not want to talk publicly about his future, basketball fans in both markets are watching his every move.
In the second half of New Jersey's 106-70 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, Nets fans inside Prudential Center in Newark chanted, "We want Dwight!" or "We want How-ard!"
Howard acknowledged he watched some of the game, but he claimed that he had his TV set on mute and could not hear the chants.
Why Howard wants to join the Nets is one of the most interesting questions in the NBA.
He has asked for a trade to the Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Dallas Mavericks.
Although Magic officials say they won't trade Howard unless it's necessary, they have given permission to Howard's agent to speak with those teams and try to facilitate a deal.
A trade between Orlando and New Jersey became more unlikely after Nets center Brook Lopez suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and needed surgery to repair the damage.
The Nets already have Deron Williams, one of the best point guards in the NBA, and Howard is said to want to team up with another superstar who can help him compete for a title.
In addition, before the 2012-13 season, the Nets will relocate from Newark to a gleaming new building in Brooklyn. Howard has longed to play in a larger market, and if he were to join the Nets, his charisma — and Williams' personality — would allow Howard to become the prime attraction on that team.
Still, it seems almost strange for a superstar on Howard's level to want to be traded to the Nets.
To a man, members of the Magic insist they have no added incentive to clobber the Nets on Thursday.
"There's just incentive to win a game," shooting guard J.J. Redick said. "To me, that's the incentive: to win."
And, yet, there must be some feelings to the contrary.
On Dec. 11, Howard told the press that one of his reasons for wanting a trade from the Magic is that General Manager Otis Smith has not carried out enough of Howard's suggested personnel changes.
The implication there is simple: Howard feels that the Magic's chances of winning would be higher if his choices were on the team instead of the current guys on the roster.
Howard is said to covet the opportunity to play alongside a top-tier point guard, and Williams certainly would qualify.
The Nets acquired Williams in a trade with the Utah Jazz last season, and Williams has said he would like to play with Howard.
Like Howard, Williams can opt out of his current deal a year early and become a free agent this July.
Because of their upcoming move to Brooklyn and because of the New York Knicks' resurgence, the Nets arguably are even more desperate to keep Williams than the Magic are to keep Howard.
"Me and Deron have talked for a couple of years," Howard said. "We did play with each other in the Olympics. You know, I've talked to a lot of guys, not just Deron."
A smile crossed Howard's face.
"But I've talked to Jameer [Nelson]," he continued. "I've talked to Gilbert [Arenas]. I've talked to Big Baby [Davis]. I've talked to a lot of guys. And everybody wants to get together and play basketball. But as of right now, the only thing that matters is this next game, coming out and playing and getting the job done."
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