- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard are the faces of adidas basketball and the company wants to make it clear that it would have no issue if the pair teamed up together in Chicago if Howard decided to join the Bulls at some point down the line.
There have been reports recently that adidas did not want Rose and Howard, their top two basketball endorsers, playing on the same team in the same market, but adidas' Vice President of Global Basketball, Lawrence Norman, who has been in Orlando for All-Star Weekend, made it clear that wasn't the case. He and his team have represented the pair since both came into the league, and he said adidas would have no issue with Howard playing wherever he wanted.
"We support Dwight no matter where he plays," Norman told ESPNChicago.com during a phone conversation on Sunday afternoon. "He's playing in Orlando right now and he's number two in the MVP voting. He's number one in All-Star votes. He's incredibly popular every year when we bring him to China. He's got worldwide appeal. He's doing just fine in Orlando. But we would support him in any decision that he makes."
The rumors about Howard's desire to play elsewhere have accelerated since he made it clear before the season started that he wanted to be traded from the Magic. Howard, who has spent a lot of time with Rose over the past few years working on adidas promotional events, has only acknowledged through his agent, Dan Fegan, that he would like to be dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks or New Jersey Nets.
The 26-year-old Howard seemed open in January to the idea of playing with the Bulls, expressing his "love" for Rose and calling him his "brother" in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, but up to this date he has made no other indication that he would like to be dealt to the Bulls and would sign an extension to stay long-term. He can opt out of his contract and the end of the season and has deflected almost every question about his precarious situation throughout the weekend.
When asked about the prospect of playing with Howard during Friday's media session, Rose admitted that it would be 'crazy' to play with Howard.
"I'm cool with the teammates that I have," Rose said. "But if you want to make up your own fantasy and say 'Would it be crazy if we played together?' Yeah ..."
The 23-year-old Rose, who has said repeatedly that he doesn't want to recruit players, said he hasn't spoken to Howard about the situation and that the Chicago market “speaks for itself.”
"I try not to think about it because he's not with us," Rose said. "But just knowing what type of player he is and how he is playing with his team right now, I think we will be pretty good if he chooses to come."
Norman understands that he has two superstars just entering the prime of their respective careers and he wants to do whatever he can to make them happy, whether they end up playing together or not.
"We've been around a lot of athletes and loyalty is important to all of them," Norman said. "Whether it's Derrick or Dwight, these are very loyal, great athletes and we're lucky to be with the best center and the best point guard in the game."
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
1dJason McCallum, ESPN Stats & Info