MIAMI — This notion of a heated Orlando-Miami rivalry is nothing new, though the perceived level of venom between the clubs may be higher than ever.
With arenas separated by 235 miles and heated moments dotting their history, the clubs — now two of the NBA's marquee teams and title hopefuls — meet tonight in Miami's home opener.
"We're trying," Magic center Dwight Howard said, "to take their heads off."
It has been that kind of a summer, months of verbal jousting that upped the ante.
A week after the teams' preseason game was canceled because of a slippery court at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, an icy relationship resumes.
"Anything that creates interest in the NBA, anything that creates interest in basketball particularly in this state, as far as I'm concerned, is fantastic," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I think our team's pretty highly motivated anyway."
"There's always been something there," Heat forward and former Gator Udonis Haslem said.
The last time new Heat center Chris Bosh went to the playoffs, he was ousted by Orlando. And LeBron James famously didn't stick around long enough to shake hands with the Magic when Orlando prevailed over Cleveland in the 2009 Eastern Conference final, creating a stir that lasted for weeks.
This summer, Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith questioned James' competitiveness for choosing to play alongside Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Heat president Pat Riley called that remark "absolutely stupid," and Van Gundy then called out Riley for making moral judgments.
"Orlando, that's funny that they questioned my competitiveness," James said. "I like that."
"I was surprised that he went. I thought he was, I guess, more of a competitor." — Magic president of basketball operations Otis Smith, on LeBron James' decision to join the Heat
"We'll deal with them later." — James, on Smith's comments
"Somebody's going to end up with seven shots. Are they going to be okay with that? Somebody's got to be Robin. Are they okay with that?" — Smith
"This is about the Miami Heat. So keep saying who is going to take the last shot, well, somebody on the Heat is going to take it. It's not necessarily about (Nos.) 6, 3, 1 taking it." — Heat guard Dwyane Wade
"We're trying to win a championship. We're not competing against the Miami Heat." — Magic center Dwight Howard