All-Star Voting Reveals How Howard’s Popularity Has Plunged

VIDEO: Dwight Howard dominates in Houston’s win against Boston

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — In 2009, Dwight Howard — not Kobe Bryant, not LeBron James, not Dwyane Wade — became the first player in All-Star fan balloting history to crack 3 million votes.

The affable, smiling and downright dominant Howard — Superman! — was the most popular player in the NBA.

Six years, multiple changes of mind and two teams later, an image-tattered Howard received 653,318 votes. He will surely make his eighth consecutive All-Star team (assuming the Western Conference coaches rightly select him as one of seven reserves). He will not, however, start the game for the first time since his All-Star debut in 2007 when Shaquille O’Neal still ruled the roost in the East with the Miami Heat. These days, O’Neal leads his TNT cohorts in dog-piling the Houston Rockets big man.

Howard’s 2014 vote-total ranked 12th among all players in both conferences. He is no longer the most popular player in the NBA. I’m not even sure if anybody even calls him Superman anymore.

Allow the following to serve as a cautionary tale to the next waffling superstar who toys with a fan base’s mind (hello, Carmelo Anthony):

Here are Howard’s All-Star vote totals and where he finished overall from 2009-14:

Before the remaining Howard-backers break out the sledgehammers and point out a thing or two, there are extenuating circumstances beyond Howard’s control that have contributed to — but cannot be wholly responsible for — his vote totals falling off a cliff.

The most obvious is the league’s obliteration of the “center” position on the All-Star ballot. This is the second consecutive year that centers and forwards are lumped into one “frontcourt” category. Under the old format, Howard would be the starting center by a wide margin. He was a starter last season under the current non-center format, but also Minnesota’s Kevin Love, who overtook Howard during the final fan balloting and will start for the first time, played in only 18 games prior to last year’s All-Star Game due to a broken hand.

Also notable is the West is loaded with on-the-rise, All-Star worthy frontcourt players, and the vote reflects that. Five players this year received more than 600,000 votes compared to three a year ago. There’s also the fact that fan voting overall, for whatever reasons, has dipped the last two years, so naturally, Howard, along with Kobe and LeBron and everybody else, received fewer votes.

Still, Howard’s fall is stunning. His diminishing percentage of total votes the last two years tells the story of how his waffling in Orlando and the perception of him in L.A. last season with the Lakers has emptied his once overflowing bandwagon.

Howard’s 653,318 votes this year account for 10.2 percent of the the total Western Conference “frontcourt” votes (the top 15 vote-getters the NBA releases). Last year his votes accounted for 15.6 percent of the total West “frontcourt votes. In 2009, when he was the overall leading vote-getter, he accounted for 19.6 percent of the Eastern Conference “frontcourt” vote (under the old format I used the top five vote-getters at “center” and the top 10 at “forward”).

Howard’s peak, percentage-wise, was 2012, his emotional, indecisive final year with the Magic. He was coming off a third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award and the All-Star Game was played in his home arena in Orlando. His 1.6 million votes accounted for 24.1 percent of the East “frontcourt” vote (again, the top five at “center” and the top 10 at “forward”).

Surely it’s safe to assume that Howard’s 2014 vote totals, the lowest of his career by far, received no help from NBA fans in Orlando and Los Angeles. He’ll probably never get them back.

He still has time to win back the fans he’s obviously lost in other precincts. Only time will tell if he does.

TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew dissect Dwight Howard’s play this season


  1. mikke says:

    Dwight is no tim duncan and definitely a thousand miles away of the skill of Shaq …

  2. jdub455 says:

    howards skill set relies on specific plays design for him. if only he had part of the era when the nba was dominated by bigs, he might not even be considered an all star… all the greats had post moves. cannot rely on athleticism alone. even shaq who was a poor shooter had very dominating post moves… but i like what mchale has been doing for him so far effectively using his skill set. d antoni’s system exposed howards weakness. its a shame that he had to make excuses as to injuries and feuding with kobe. i personally dnt think kobe is the ultimate teammate, but you cannot deny his competitiveness. howard should have stayed with LA coz if they wont win in HOUston, i dont need to say the obvious…

  3. LAinKolumpo says:

    hahaha… he’s a loser.

  4. Saggy B says:

    Too many one-dimensional players in the NBA

  5. NBA2K says:

    The center position being taken off the ballot hurt a lot. His injury and sub-par play has also hurt (though he has been playing near that level as of late. One of the comments made a good point: he isn’t as strong going to the rim and dunking, but his numbers aren’t really too far off). But it is at least partially about his reputation. LA fans are widely spread, yet still dense. Losing those votes is difficult and accounts for a lot. His situation in Orlando made die hard fans question his leadership skills and motivation. And loyalty comes up when he’s already left two teams and is on his third in three years. I’m sure many fans can relate, or at least wouldn’t want that to happen with their teams.

  6. RM says:

    IMO this statement:

    “The affable, smiling and downright dominant Howard — Superman! — was the most popular player in the NBA.”

    is not true. This, to me, is made obvious when the article outlines that at least a portion of the decline is due to a different voting structure. This shows that the only reason he ever topped the votes was because centers had their own section.

  7. lol says:

    Dwight was always a tall athletic guy with no basketball skills, no post game, no shooting skills and he cant make a single dribble without losing the ball, his defence and rebounding is all about his athleticism but thats all, and he is not even near as big or dominand as Shaq was in his prime but still a good center for todays atrocious standards,most big men are so BAD no bball skills at all…

  8. In Orlando I thought Howard was the most dominent best Centre in game since his injury andhe left Orlando, he has lost some of his athletic ability but still is great centre, how ever Brook Lopez has better post moves and can hit base line jump shots better and Hibbert has become the best defensive centre in game. Howard had skys the limit expectations on him when he left Orlando and hasnt achieved what majority of people thort. Im a Dwight fan but I think he does have a lack of post moves or not as good at finishing in post against good defenders/ other 7 footas. Low free throw isnt 2 much of a concern and people compare that to shaq. But shaq was a monster and way more unstoppable than howard. thats why hack a shaq came in because once shaq got it in the post you knew it was 2 points! The real test and judgement for Dwight will be in playoffs so Im going to wait and see how dominent he can be at the highest level because rockets will make the playoffs then the truth will be seen on Dwight. Good luck he has got the work ethic and capability to take over at times

  9. emevipeelad234 says:

    a lot of his former votes was directly related to the “superman guy”, and i’m not talking about the slam dunk contest (nice and legit winner for me) but i talk about what he clearly lost after his vicious injury. he lost that extra agressive jump, now he is a generic big, he is not destroying the rim with monstruous high altitude dunks any more. just a fact, maybe it’s 20 or 30 cm of jumps lost. and it was everything for him, visually his game has changed, he still can become a better player but when 3 millions people vote for you, the majority is just (flashy) highlights obsessed, they don’t know other sides of the game.

  10. dustydreamnz says:

    Sekou said he was ‘likeable’. C’mon now.

  11. joe says:

    Really like Uncle Daddy´s comment, very nice and accurate observation of this league.

    About Howard and his 3 millions votes in 2009. That year, it was still 2 guards, 2 forwards, 1 center.
    Being the only center in the league, he had to get all the votes for his position.

  12. Bulilit says:

    Dwight Howard is way too overrated. He is not that good. He doesn’t have that basketball fundamentals. For one his free throws are terrible. He cannot do outside shooting except for his dunks. He is not the greatest defender. And he likes drama. He thinks however that he is great. But that’s just him thinking. He wants to belong to the club of elite players but he is far from it. He does not have his own original moves to be a good center. His dunks doesn’t make him exceptional. Really never voted for him.

    • Vakoo says:

      Fundamentals – What do you even mean? He more than makes up for anything with his athleticism. I mean look at him play, simply a beast.
      Free throws – Umm, what about Shaq, remember that guy, a terrible free throw shooter as well. But still – a future hall of famer.
      Outside shooting – So what? He can make most of his shots inside, every game. Why would he need to step outside. And just for the record, Dwight has made a few 3’s this year.
      Not the greatest Defender? – WTF? He is a 3 time defensive player of the year. 4 time all NBA defensive first team. And you don’t even have to be the best to be a tremendous defender.
      He likes drama? – No, he likes to joke and smile.
      Club of elite players – If there is a club like this, then he is certainly in it.
      Original moves – You must be trolling…..why do I even bother with you. 😀

  13. Naz says:

    Lets just face it, Dwight isn’t as dominant as we all thought he should be.

  14. Uncle Daddy says:

    It’s sad, but I think there are a lot of teams, Not Players, but teams people just don’t care about outside of the city they are in. Nobody cares about teams like Houston, Portland, etc. (“fan” majority speaking) they are really good, but I don’t hear people talk about Harden (when in OKC) or Howard (when in Orlando) as much anymore. Just because you have good players doesn’t mean anything, your franchise has to reach into the playoffs for several years before anybody really cares, unless you have one of the two best players in the game, then you will get bandwagoned. This is why the league will mess teams over every year in the playoffs, that can’t push there brand, and make more money. There is no sport left here, this is all business (until we get rid of David Stern and now, Silver it will be that way).

  15. HOU native says:

    “… fan voting overall, for whatever reasons, has dipped the last two years…”

    Come on…the All-Star game is not the game it used to be…nothing close to the days of MJ, Magic, even Shaq and Kobe, KG, the “Big Fundamental”, Karl Malone, etc…

    Those guys actually played but now these guys just run around making millions and acting like the fans owe them something…NO, this game is about the fans and these athletes are extremely overpaid to entertain. Yet, they won’t (participate in the dunk contest or play with heart and competitive drive on All-Star weekend). No defense hardly, no true game plan…the All-Star game by comparison is a joke.

  16. lakerslakerslakers says:

    howard is overrated and while he did play hurt last season, kevin love, brook lopez are better than him. sure he gets some double doubles but he is not dominant in the paint. he’s no hakeem, no mutumbo and hell no not anywhere close to shaq. all this nonsense people have taken notice and he won’t deliver in houston with the team the way it is… he needs more HELP to get it done.

  17. thefansforum says:

    I voted for him a couple of times. I think that Dwight Howard has gotten a raw deal, with how he left Orlando, and that disastrous year in LA. Hey, teams, the city and fans put a lot of pressure on players to stay. And I believe that Orlando had become a toxic environment for him. Then he went to LA, where the only big man that could ever keep Kobe in his place, is no longer playing, and that’s Shaq. I cringe seeing Pau Gasol on the court with him. I wish, for his sake, that he’s traded before Kobe even comes back. Their relationship boarders on abusive. I think Dwight has rebounded superbly and is playing well for Houston. If only they can learn to use him, and play inside-out more, they may not lose big leads like they did in the game agains’t OKC recently.

    • HOU native says:

      BTW (thefansforum)

      it’s “borders” not boarders…no disrespect intended…I’m just saying…

      • Ed says:

        You are right about the relationship condition in Lakers. As long as Kobe is in Lakers with his selfish and arrogant ways no superstar player would be happy to stay. Remember when they got rid of Shaq and then Kobe suddenly made a public apology, Even Magic Johnson find it stupid that Kobe made the apology after they traded Shaq. Then Shaq won a title with Heat. In this case they got rid of Howard then Kobe went down with injury now Lakers is on a slump. Is this KARMA or what?

    • Vakoo says:

      I totally agree with you. Just because his stats have slightly decreased and his not a fan favourite anymore, does not mean he deserves to get bashed for anything. He is still a tremendous player with a bright personality. Young, still very athletic. Still the top rebounder in the league.
      Anyhow, what does all star voting really show? People like new exciting things, they vote for drama and players they have seen in commercials recently. Double-double each game and easy shots around the rim (due to Howard’s athleticism) does not say drama – it says consistency.
      Dwight is still Superman, only there are other “superhero movies out now.”