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Houston's Howard jokes about the need to 'save centres' after not being named All-Star starter

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HOUSTON - Dwight Howard is rekindling his crusade to save centres.

A day after failing to earn a starting spot in this year's All-Star game, the Houston Rockets' big man joked there was a need to protect the NBA's centres.

The league changed the voting last year to eliminate a separate category for centres, leaving the game's largest players to compete with small and power forwards for a spot on the team. No centre was named a starter for next month's game in New Orleans.

Howard has been unhappy with the change since last year when he made a silly video asking people to help save the centres. The video, which can be seen on YouTube, plays off the popular ASPCA commercial where Sarah McLachlan sings "Angel" and asks for donation to help abused animals.

In Howard's public service announcement, a song to the tune of "Angel," with lyrics about famous centres, plays in the background while Howard touts his fictional "Center Center for Centers."

"I'm going to have another campaign for saving the centres because the world needs us," he said before Friday night's game against Memphis. "They might not need us to start for the All-Star game but they're going to need us to block shots and get things from the ceiling, tall things. So we'll be needed."

In the video he talks about how his fake centre will retrain centres to be point guards so they can be "productive members of the NBA." He adds that he'll teach them to dribble, make a layup without dunking, shoot 3-pointers and how to wear "tiny sneakers."

He laughed heartily as he showed the video to reporters on his IPad on Friday.

The seven-time All-Star, who is in his first season with Houston, was fourth in the Western Conference in frontcourt voting behind Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love. He received 653,318 votes, while Durant received 1,396,294.

"That's understandable," he said. "Now there's no centres in the ballot. We get mixed in with the Kevin Durants and the Blakes and guys who play a small forward and power forward so it's a little bit different. I'll do whatever I can to get back up to the top. The way you do that is by winning and that's what we'll try to do."

Howard entered Friday's game averaging 18.3 points and 12.6 rebounds a game for the 29-15 Rockets. When he was first asked about the snub, he tried to brush it off, but later admitted his true feelings about not starting.

"Of course there was a little disappointment with everything," he said. "But I want to win a championship and that's why I'm here. Being on the All-Star team is a bonus and it's a blessing to be a part of that group. But my goal is to win a championship and that's what I'm here for and that's why I came to Houston."

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