Sixers’ Joel Embiid says he’s not mad about not being MVP but doesn’t know what to do to win.


Philadelphia 76ers bigman Joel Embiid had a painful night after hurting his back and re-exacerbating an orbital fracture in Game 5 of the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs on Tuesday. To add to the insult to the injury, Embiid was questioned by reporters about his reaction to reports that Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic would be named MVP.

Embiid said he wasn’t surprised by the news., and at the end of the regular season, Straw Polls conducted by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps showed that most voters were expecting the outcome since they were leaning towards Jokic. As a result, he was not particularly angry.

Still, Embiid shared a broader view of the voting process and who votes. It’s worth looking at the second half of his response.

“Obviously, congratulations to Nikola. He deserves it. He’s had an amazing season. There’s no right or wrong. There were a lot of candidates. You could go either way. Giannis, Devin Booker are in the best team in the league. So far, so every year, whatever you decide, whatever fits the narrative, it’s all about who wins.”

Embiid is right in that there were many suitable people. It eventually turned into a two-player match between him and Jokic, but Giannis Antetokounmpo could easily win his third trophy and easily turn Devin Booker into the best player in the best team.

Although never explicitly acknowledged, the award has a narrative aspect. The success of the team, the career of the players and past results are important. It’s not strictly a “League’s Best Player” designation. That’s why LeBron James doesn’t have 10 MVPs and no matter how good Jokic is next season, he doesn’t have a chance to win. Ironically, the narrative aspect is why Embiid could possibly win next season as long as he stays fit.

“But the only thing I can say about these awards is that I don’t know how to explain them. Going back to what I heard on the podcast. Bill Simmons basically said ‘f— Jalen Green.’ It’s not fair to allow these types of people to vote for this award, if Jalen Green was in a position to get a supermax or not, I don’t know. There are people with the power to say that. He’s been in a lot of other media I don’t think it’s fair for anyone who can shake members and say things like that. I don’t think it’s right.”

This has something to do with the actual MVP discussion and looks like a normal shot to the media. It’s also worth noting that this particular Simmons trick, which continues to be mentioned, is a joke that is completely out of context (perhaps reckless). However, Embiid’s bigger point on the issue of how award voting will financially impact players is widely shared.

“The only thing I can say about those awards is that I’m not upset. Over the last two years I’ve put myself in that position. That hasn’t happened. Almost at this point, it happens whatever happens last year. I campaigned about it, and this year I answered the questions when they were asked, and the next few years before I retire it’s like I don’t know what more to do. It’s not that I haven’t focused on it, it’s that I really need to put all my energy into the bigger picture that wins the whole.”

It’s certainly fair to wonder what Embiid will have to do to earn the MVP since he deserved more than that this season. But in reality he did what he had to do and he controlled what he could control. The only thing he did “wrong” was playing so well in the same season with two other great players in history.

What’s even more interesting about this quote is that he admits how much Embiid thought about MVP. He may not have been upset about the actual result, but it is clear that the whole process was somewhat burdensome for him. If he can stop worrying about it next season, it will probably take some weight off his shoulders.



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