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2013 marked the first year that the voting process for the All-Star starters by fans would be changed; ‘Center’ would no longer be on the All-Star ballot. Instead fans would vote in two backcourt players and three front court players. It was a subtle change made but it gave a peek into the ever changing landscape of the NBA and what the future holds. 2013 had two centers still voted in as starters, with four more being named as reserves. Traditionalists were happy as the first year of balloting did not change the fact that two guards, two forwards and center would be on the court to start the game. Even with the positive results, that could very well be the last time we see that many Centers take part in the All-Star game.
Dwight Howard is thought of as the best Center in the NBA and the way fans voted for him previously it would be hard to argue against. He was voted in as a starter for six consecutive seasons before being passed by Love this season. A common argument for the change in popularity is the destruction Howard has done with his self image, after flip-flopping more than a fish out of water, about where he stood about being a member of the Orlando Magic and then leaving the Lakers this past off-season. Nonetheless, he was still voted in as a starter in his lone season in purple and gold in 2013, by a healthy margin of 429,697 votes despite the fact he battled injuries and his performance being underwhelming to some. In the Eastern Conference Roy Hibbert was the highest vote getter for the Center position this season, but finished almost 410,000 votes behind Anthony.
While fans may not think highly of the Center position, it is one flush with an intriguing mix of young up-and-comers and older veterans that aren’t prepared to let their position in the NBA ride off into the sunset. Tyson Chandler, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis are all players that would have garnered more All-Star consideration just two years ago with the Center position still been on the ballot. If not for injuries, you could add Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Nikola Vucevic and Al Horford to that list as well.
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Centers are now looked at as lumbering players not worthy of a showcase such as All-Star Weekend as all they do is rebound and protect the rim; two things that aren’t exactly welcomed at such an event. While some NBA fans and the All-Star weekend try to rid the game of the Center position, smart teams will realize there is still a need for them in the NBA. The Miami Heat have won the last two NBA Championships without a true Center but they have an advantage similar to what the Bulls had with
Jordan; a once in a lifetime talent in LeBron James. The Heat have seen first hand what a Center can do when they lost their first NBA Finals with their ‘Big 3’ against the Dallas Mavericks, who had Tyson Chandler manning the middle alongside Dirk Nowitzki. Why the Center position seems to be on its way out of the NBA is a head-scratcher as history has proven that the need for a Center is of the utmost importance if you do not have an all-world talent residing on your roster.