HOUSTON — Tyrannosaurus Rex, the woolly mammoth and the dodo bird are extinct.
But Dwight Howard says he’s not worried that he and other traditional big men might join them after the fan voting for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game nudged them toward the endangered species list.
Neither the Eastern or Western Conference teams will have a center in the starting lineup after the Rockets’s Howard and the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert were shut out in the voting by three forwards across the front line.
“I didn’t come to Houston to be a starter on the All-Star team,” Howard said before Friday night’s game against the Grizzlies. “I came to help this team win a championship. So that’s my goal.
“I’m happy for all the guys that got voted in by the fans. The guys who started have had an unbelievable season so far to this point. So I’m excited to see those guys play.
“I mean, of course, (there’s) a little disappointment with everything. But like I said, I want to win a championship. That’s why I’m here. Being an All-Star and being on the All-Star team is a bonus. It’s a blessing to be a part of that group. But my goal is win a championship. That’s what I’m here for. That’s why I came to Houston to do and that’s been my only goal since I’ve been here.
“I haven’t written down anything about starting for the All-Star team, but I have written down winning a championship. So that’s what I want to do.”
This is the second year that that there was no designated center position on the All-Star ballot. Fans are asked to vote simply for three front court players and two backcourt players.
Howard said that change in the system is big part of the reason that his vote total this season of 653,318 is significantly down from his peak year of 2009, when he led all vote-getters with more than 3.1 million.
“That’s understandable,” Howard said. “Now with no centers on the ballot, we get mixed in with the Kevin Durants, the Blakes and all that stuff, guys that play small forward and power forward. It’s a little bit different. But I’ll do whatever I can to get back up to the top. That’s my goal. The only way you do that is by winning. So that’s what I’m gonna try to do.”
Howard then referred to his spoof campaign from last season that was released by The NOC on YouTube. It promotes The Center Center For Centers.
The spoof is played to the background music of Sarah MacLachlan’s Angel and is a takeoff on her dog rescue public service announcements.
“Hi, I’m Dwight Howard. This year, centers have been left off the All-Star ballot, leaving dozens of centers, centers just like me, feeling alone and scared. Thankfully, there’s a way you can help. …
“Here at the Center Center for Centers, we give centers the love and care they need and we retrain them … as point guards, ready to become productive members of the NBA. …
“Please say you’ll be the angel for the center who is suffering right now. Call the number on your screen or go online to pledge your support.”
After Howard played the spoof ad on his iPad for a group of reporters, he grinned broadly and promised to renew his first for respect at his position.
“I’m gonna have another campaign for saving the centers, because the world needs us. They might not need us to start for the All-Star Game, but they’re gonna need us to block shots, get things from the ceiling, tall things and stuff like that. We’ll be needed and I want to make sure everybody knows that.