Dwight Howard was named to his fourth straight All Star starting lineup and fifth straight game appearance, collecting the most votes in the Eastern Conference and the second most in the league behind only Kobe Bryant.
This is not much of a surprise. Howard is by far the best center in the league. The Superman of the league. A dunking, shot-blocking, smiling dominant figure in the NBA. There are very few players who change a game just by his mere presence. Howard is definitely one of those players and a top five guy in this league.
It is not news he is starting in the All-Star Game in Los Angeles this year.
To recap his year, Howard is averaging a career-high 22.0 points per game and 13.4 rebounds per game while shooting 56.9 percent from the floor and 58.2 percent from the line (yeah, that is not good). He also leads the league with 12 technical fouls (like how I snuck that in there?) and is posting a career-high 28.1 percent usage rate, showing that he has diversified his game and is taking more responsibility in the offense. He has become more of a leader, even if that does not yet show in Orlando's record.
"I'm always thankful for all of the people out there who voted for me. It's a blessing to have that kind of support," Howard said of being the East’s leading vote-getter. "My first year I didn't have a lot of votes, but every year since then it's just kept on increasing more and more. I'm just so thankful for the fans because I wouldn't be where I am today without their support."
Joining Howard in the East's starting lineup is Chicago's Derrick Rose, Miami's Dwyane Wade and LeBron James and New York's Amar'e Stoudemire. They will start off up against New Orleans' Chris Paul, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Denver's Carmelo Anthony and Houston's Yao Ming. Yao, who is out for the season, will be replaced by West coach Gregg Popovich.
The reserves will be announced next week before the Magic's home game against the Heat on TNT. I would not expect any more Magic players to join Howard in LA. Gilbert Arenas finished seventh among East guards and Vince Carter, who picked up most of his votes as a member of the Magic, finished 10th among West guards, showing just how much of a popularity contest this whole thing is.
"It's an honor just to be there at the game and a part of the whole weekend," Howard said. "The way I look at it, the All-Star Game is completely for the fans. It's a way of giving back for me. I just look at it as a blessing."