Dwight Howard

The number 12 is no longer sacred in Orlando.

The man who used to wear it, Los Angeles Lakers’ center Dwight Howard, also once shouldered the Magic’s hopes of attaining an elusive first NBA championship.

But after eight years of chasing it, and taking Orlando through one of the most turbulent seasons in its history last year, the man who called himself Superman is now the city’s biggest villain.

He returns for the first time Tuesday since his offseason trade to the Lakers to face the jilted fans, front office members and handful of teammates that he left behind.

”I’m not sure,” Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said when asked about his expectations for Tuesday. ”Obviously the atmosphere is gonna be probably a little turned up, a littler crazier than we’ve had so far this year.”

Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis are the only players on the Magic’s roster that have previously played with Howard. With Davis out with a broken foot and Turkoglu serving a suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, only Nelson will play in the rematch.

– Reported by Kyle Hightower of the Associated Press