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NBA roundup: Howard not happy with ballot changes

The SportsXchange

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard sounded off on the new All-Star Game ballot that eliminates the center designation.

This season's change has fans voting for three frontcourt players, instead of two forwards and one center.

"I don't like it at all," Howard told reporters. "We work just as hard as anybody else. I don't think it's fair to take away a position which has been here for life. You need a center on the court. So I don't think it's right. That's like taking away a guard. That's how I feel. It's been that way since they started All-Star Games, so why change it now? Because centers shoot 3's now?"

The NBA has evolved to the point where big men play more in the open and operate in ways similar to a guard. Some fans and analysts maintain that this had led to fewer players being regarded as legitimate centers.

"The game changes every day," Howard said. "It changes every year. You look at the game back then and now, centers are bigger, stronger, faster. Guards are bigger, stronger, faster. So the game evolves. That doesn't mean you take out a position because of the game evolving, because the players that play center are evolving also."

---Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake was fined $25,000 for shouting foul language toward a fan, the NBA announced.

The verbal altercation happened with 29.2 seconds left in the Lakers' 105-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday at Staples Center.

According to ESPNLosAngeles.com, a fan told Blake: "You need to knock down those open shots" and Blake fired back with a comment. He later continued the conversation after fouling out.

---Charlotte Bobcats guard Gerald Henderson could miss 2-4 weeks after further tests on his left foot confirmed a mid-foot sprain, the team announced.

Henderson suffered the injury Nov. 3 at the Dallas Mavericks. He has averaged 12.5 points in 28.0 minutes over the first two games.

---New York Knicks point guard Iman Shumpert is shooting for a 2013 return, according to a New York Post report.

"What you all are saying isn't what we're going by," Shumpert told The Post before last night's win over the 76ers. "January, February is what we're aiming for. I'm just trying to get healthy. When I get healthy, I'll return to the court. I'm not going to come back and not be able to do the things I did last year and a little more. I want to come back and add something."

Shumpert tore his ACL and meniscus in Game 1 vs. Miami in April, and was thought to be out for the season. A return could strengthen the team's depth at guard. In their lineup, Jason Kidd has moved to shooting guard and Ronnie Brewer to small forward. When Amar'e Stoudemire returns in mid-December, Kidd will shift to the bench.

"It's going to be a sight to see when we're back at full strength," Shumpert told the paper. "It's going to be nice when we're all together. We're deep in every position. I'm happy and excited."
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