The Fans Have Spoken: Dwight Howard’s Act Is Up

The bearded wonder James Harden has a legit beef with being left off the Western Conference starting All-Star squad. Since bolting OKC for Houston’s big gwap and uninhibited shots, he’s been an NBA Top Chef. If he was Jeremy Lin or Steph Flurry, he’d probably be starting, but even as the go-to gangsta on a decent Houston squad – the fans obviously still see him as the third leg to Durant and Westbrook’s two-seat throne.

Media members often criticize the fan voting which is largely based on popularity. Scrubby players don’t tend to be fan favorites, so it’s not like undeserving guys get voted in over clearly superior players.

When it comes down to a super celebrity baller versus a dude on the come up, fans tend to get a little emotional and star struck and sometimes deserving players such as Portland Trailblazer’s star Lamarcus Aldridge (who was snubbed again for overrated dunk star Blake Griffin) don’t get the votes they should because their promo game is saucy. In most instances the overlooked players are voted in as reserves by the coaches. So have no fear, CP3, Aldridge, Hibbert, Damian Lillard and your other B-brand superstars will be in The Bayou on Sunday, Feb. 16 at New Orleans Arena, and the two head coaches will be Frank Vogel of the Pacers for the Eastern Conference and whichever coach has the best record in the Western Conference through games played on Feb. 2.

Griffin is a dynamic player and his game is more polished than when he first entered The League, but Aldridge is a clutch performer on a surprisingly-lethal Portland squad and he’s been snubbed in the past. The Fans of Griffin’s commercials – and the mixed-raced, freckle-faced, red-heads all over the globe – have made him a cult hero. Leaping over that Kia at the 2011 All-Star Game earned him a lifetime membership to the NBA’s mid-season marauders exhibition.

Actually this season the fans got one major exclusion right. Some fools are calling Dwight “Super Hoe” Howard’s failure to earn a starting nod a snub. While Dwight’s numbers definitely look all-star worthy (18.3 ppg and 11.6 rpg), especially for a center, I have argued time and time again that his advantage as an Ox-strong and agile 7-footer playing in an NBA void of post talent boosts his stats. They are often lazy numbers.

It appears the people have spoken and prefer the silky-smooth, multi-dimensional frontcourt game of Minnesota’s Kevin Love to the old school, plow and plod, board-bashing, clog-the-lane game of the 10-year vet. You know Iceman Love scores the ball, but he’s actually averaging more boards (13) too.

Although Howard’s just 28, he’s becoming “old news” to a legion of young voters who have heard of the poor man’s Superman and seen him consistently promoted as an NBA God. Other than a loss to Kobe in the 2009 NBA Finals, he doesn’t have any highlights that have earned him a VIP seat in NBA lore. Dancing around in a Superman cape at the 2009 Slam Dunk contest with doesn’t count.

Neither does seven all-star appearances. “It’s a big surprise, Shaq said on TNT. “He’s a likeable guy and he’s a fan favorite and his team is winning.”

Howard is that perfect meal you thought you were getting at the most expensive restaurant in town. You hear all of these great things about the restaurant and you get there and you see this irresistible looking dish on the menu. The waitress and everyone else you confer with encourages you to order it. You feel like you are making a great decision because it’s a rare dish that’s only made in a few restaurants. Indiana has a dish called Hibbert Ribs that’s also very good.

When this dish arrives at your table it looks exquisite, smells like heaven and the portions are very healthy in size. You figure it’s got to be worth the $110 price tag. So you dig into it with great anticipation and begin to chew. At first you are loving it because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You just dished out a grip for greatness. But as you dig deeper into the meal you start to taste inconsistencies throughout. The outside appears tough but the inside is all mushy and as quick as you can say “check please” you realize something is missing with this meal. There’s an ingredient or two that the chef forgot to mix in. Vital ingredients that don’t totally ruin the taste of the meal, but leaves you dissatisfied because you really were expecting a winning dish. Instead, you got a highly-hyped dish that brought your taste buds moments of pleasure but never made you so satisfied that you passed up on dessert. In fact, after all of that you realized it’s a dish that you certainly can do without.

That’s what NBA fans think about Houston’s Dwight Howard, who some folks feel was snubbed from the 2014 Western Conference, fan all-star selections announced on Thursday. His act is finally wearing thin with everyone, even the fans who bought his moodiness and his jokester mentality, his failure in big moments, his shifty coach-assassination tactics, pass-the-buck approach and his inability to lead and get along with men in his locker room.

“This just shows you what he’s gone through the last couple of years,” said NBA TV’s Steve Smith… he has lost some of that good will with the fans.”

Howard is considered a great player. He’s had some dominating moments. Before the grueling work ethic of Hibbert elevated him to elite center status, Howard was considered the last of the mohicans. A 6-11 post player who lived in the paint and protected his sacred ground with AK-47 pivot skills, Boeing Jet ups, the quickness of a cheetah and a million dollar smile. He’s lauded as a franchise player who can be the centerpiece of a championship squad.

However, his forced extradition from Orlando coupled with his phony posturing to secure a max-money deal and then his failure to step up in the playoffs against the Spurs when Kobe went down (remember Kobe was supposedly the reason Howard wasn’t performing well as a Laker) really had him on my sh*t list. Particularly annoying is the way Howard refuses to at least appear as if some situations call for ferocious urgency. I get the whole “the game should be fun” spiel. Ken Griffey Jr. whiffed 1,779 times in his illustrious career and never frowned. Difference is, with “The Kid” you always knew you were getting his best effort.

We know Dwight is giving his all when he wifes random strippers and adds to his squadron of kids . Fans however, would rather he stopped chasing Shawn Kemp’s records and started focusing on emulating somebody like Hakeem Olajuwon.

In my April 28, 2013 Shadow League rant, “Dwight Howard Doesn’t Deserve To Be A Max Player,” I warned against overvaluing a dude who continues to get king kudos without accomplishing anything royal:

It’s about time for Dwight Howard to reassess his market value. Actually, he needs to lower his standards. Not in women, cars or clothes, but in the superstar respect he thinks he deserves from the NBA community.

Dwight Howard is supposed to be the last great center, and in a fair world, he’d have played himself out of a max-deal in this series against the Spurs. Of course, he’s going to get his bread, but it should come with a serious caution tag.

Since leaving Orlando in ruins, Howard’s heir of invincibility has steadily dwindled. No one blamed him for bolting Disney for greener pastures, even if he did turn the city into an NBA soap opera , which included trying to get his coach iced.

Howard wants to play God, but he’s not even King. His supporters felt that Kobe going down would give him a chance to be the No. 1 option and establish his destiny as the future face of the Lakers. With the exception of a statistically-solid Game 1, Howard’s presence on the court throughout this series lacked the impact of a bona fide NBA killer. It’s safe to officially say, Howard is a sick piece to add to a championship mix, but he can’t carry a team on that bad back anymore.

People constantly rip Carmelo Anthony (who earned his seventh all-star selection) as a guy who can’t lead his team of bumbling bums to an NBA chip. If Melo is a limited ball player than what is Howard’s excuse for having a prolific score like Harden on his team, yet they still sit four games behind a Spurs team whose core is older than DJ Red Alert.

Howard isn’t even the man on Houston. Harden is. That 18 and 13 he gets every night isn’t really putting in work. That’s been the basics throughout Howard’s career. I guess what I’m looking for is more impact on the game. Stats don’t always equal impact. I’m looking for him to clearly establish who he is. One night it’s 30 and 20 and another night it’s a technical, two tantrums, three funny looks of bewilderment and 6 points.

Howard has consistently exhibited the inconsistencies of a player who is less than great and the fans aren't going to let him slide anymore. Win something. Rise above a situation and stop abusing your God-given talents and call upon your heart to lead the way.

It’s 2014. Nobody likes phonies.

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.