Dwight Howard’s status as one of the world’s most popular and beloved athletes was reaffirmed on Thursday when the NBA announced that the Orlando Magic superstar center was the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game.
Dwight received a whopping 1.6 million votes and will start as the Eastern Conference’s center for a fifth consecutive year. Overall, it’s Dwight’s sixth consecutive All-Star berth, but the first where he will get a chance to play in front of his hometown fans in Orlando. All-Star Weekend will be held Feb. 24-26 at Orlando’s Amway Center.
“I’m humbled and honored for all the love and support from the fans,’’ Dwight said. “To be the leading vote-getter for the all-star game, that’s an amazing accomplishment. I’m humbled.’’
Dwight was a no-brainer as the pick to be the starting center as he has dominating in almost every category this season. He ranks first in the NBA in rebounding (15.4), second in field goal percentage (55.4), second in double-doubles (17), seventh in blocked shots (2.0) and 15th in scoring (20.1 points per game). He is the only player in history to win three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards, and he is the favorite to win the award for years to come.
Joining Dwight in the Eastern Conference starting lineup at the forward position are Miami’s LeBron James (1,360,680) and New York’s Carmelo Anthony (1,041,290). The starters for the East at guard are the Chicago’s Derrick Rose (1,514,723) and Miami’s Dwyane Wade (1,334,223).
In the Western Conference, four-time All-Star Game MVP Kobe Bryant Bryant is joined by Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul (1,138,743). Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (1,345,566) and Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin (876,451) start along the frontline, while Los Angeles Lakers’ center Andrew Bynum will make his first all-star start. It marks the first time since 1997 (Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle’s Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton) that two pair of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
The East and West All-Star coaches and coaching staffs will be determined by the best record in the conference through games played Feb. 15.
NBA coaches will decide the reserves on each team. In selecting the reserves, the 30 NBA head coaches must vote for seven players within their conference, including two guards, two forwards, a center and two players regardless of position. Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their team. After the coaches select the reserves, if a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select a replacement. Reserves will be announced Feb. 9, on TNT.