Joel Embiid Wins 2023 NBA Most Valuable Player Award. How The 76ers Star Beat Nikola Jokic And Giannis Antikonmo

The “process” has finally reached its most valuable stage.

Joel Embiid, 29, of the Philadelphia 76ers is the 2023 NBA Most Valuable Player, besting Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo by a comfortable margin.

The results for the league’s best individual award were announced Tuesday night live on TNT. The award is decided by a vote of 100 members of the media covering the NBA.

“It’s been a long time,” Embiid said, during his televised interview with TNT analysts on Inside the NBA, from the team hotel in Boston, where the Sixers are in the middle of a second-round playoff game against the Boston Celtics. He was assaulted by colleagues on the hotel ballroom after his name was announced, burying his face in his massive hands while hugging him and chanting “MVP, MVP”.

Embiid, who was born in Cameroon, didn’t start playing basketball until the age of 16 and is now a 6-time NBA All-Star, winning the MVP award for the first time in a career that began by missing his first two. seasons due to complications from a bone fracture in his foot. This was followed by years of him being the focus of former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s “Trust the Process” campaign to try to build a winner around him.

Embiid’s victory comes after two consecutive seasons in which he deserved the award, but he finished second to Jokic, the 2021 and 2022 NBA MVP who was trying to become the first player since Larry Bird in 1986 to win it three years in a row. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell remain the only other players to have won three consecutive MVPs.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Embiid said. “I don’t just talk about basketball, I talk about everything as life — my story. Where I came from, how I got here and what it took to be here, it feels good.”

It was expected to be the closest race ever, as a poll of league voters showed a spike between Embiid and Jokic late in the season. Embiid won easily with 73 first-place votes and 25 seconds, with voters impressed by his dominance, narrative of winning his first prize, possibly dismissing Jokic as a three-time winner, and watching Jokic miss several matches over the last two. weeks.

Embiid was 241 points ahead (votes preponderate) over Gokic, who scored 15 first points and beat Antitokonmo by scoring 52 seconds against 23 for Giannis.

Celtics’ Jason Tatum was fourth and Shay Gilgos Alexander of Oklahoma City, who was an All-Star for the first time this season, was fifth.

This year, the sheer dominance of Embiid’s season was enough to overtake and outpace Jokić’s less glamorous game analytically.

At 7 feet tall and impressive range, Embiid led the NBA in scoring at 33.1 points per game. It was the second consecutive season that he was the league’s leading scorer by average. He also tied for ninth in rebounds per game (10.2) and seventh with 1.7 blocks. Embiid shot nearly 55 percent from the field (a career high), made a third of his three doubles and was an 86 percent shooter at the foul line in 66 games—just two short of his career best.

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Embiid joins Chamberlain (1966, 1967, 1968), Julius Irving (1981), Moses Malone (1983) and Allen Iverson (2001) as the Sixers to win Most Valuable Player honors.

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“What I want people to remember is that anything is possible,” Embiid said. “For me, I only started playing basketball at 16, it’s hard. It’s hard to do it and to be able to be in that position. It obviously took a lot of work and a lot of luck. But you know, I just want people to remember.” Anything is possible, no matter what you do, as long as you believe in it.”

Jokić, unlike Embiid, averaged “only” 24.5 points per game, but was tied for third in the league with Antetokounmpo in rebounds (11.8), fourth in assists (9.8) and shot 63 percent from the field. The Serbian center is the only player to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists on at least 60 percent shooting and also lead the NBA with 29 triple-doubles.

Antetokounmpo, from Greece, won MVP honors in 2019 and 2020. His career average of 31.1 points averaged the best in the NBA regular season team this time around. The last American-born player to win the MVP award was James Harden in 2018.

Embiid missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a right knee injury, though the Sixers, led by 45 points from James Harden, beat the Celtics without him. The second game is on Wednesday. “We’ll see,” he said when TNT’s Ernie Johnson asked if he would play.

The latest Sixers injury report can wait a minute. Ceremony should be part of the process, too.

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Embiid: Unexpected MVP

To sum up Embiid’s career, and how the 29-year-old hulking man got to the point where he was voted the most valuable player in the best basketball league on the planet, is an impossible task. But the best place to start thinking is that for all of the natural talents Embiid possesses, his career trajectory was unique. “Unlikely” is another way of putting it.

As a 16-year-old in Cameroon, Embiid was invited to Luc Mbah a Moute basketball camp simply because he was tall. He didn’t even show up on the first day, instead choosing to play video games with his younger brother. Embiid had played very little organized basketball at that point, believing that a volleyball career would be his future. This initial basketball camp led to another camp invitation, and eventually Mbah Muti arranged for him to play high school basketball in Florida. At that time, Embiid knew almost no English.

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After a rapid rise at Kansas that ended with Embiid becoming the #3 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he missed his first two full professional seasons due to a fractured navicular bone in his right foot. The Sixers, perhaps rightly so, were very careful with Embiid once he finally got to Earth. While Embiid hasn’t completely avoided injury, he has appeared in a combined 134 games over the past two seasons. Getting to the point where he plays enough games to be considered MVP, it’s definitely not a given yet how his NBA career began. –Rich Hoffman

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How Embiid changed his game to become the MVP

Perseverance and overcoming adversity are a major part of Embiid’s story. But the rise from perennial All-Star nominee to MVP, a jump perhaps steeper than it seems on paper, is due in large part to his dedication to the craft. Embiid has continued to improve and develop over the course of his career.

Rather than heed calls to play like a traditional big man in the post-apocalypse, Embiid studied how to play the game at the highest levels. His main takeaway, which he came to alongside coach Drew Hanlin, was that he needed to migrate gradually to the ocean. The elbow and “nail” areas around the free throw line are now his sweet spot. To get there, Embiid studied shooting big men like Dirk Nowitzki, as well as wingers like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Embiid never put himself in a box, which allowed him to become one of the sport’s most dominant players. A change in perimeter, and skill development over the years that turned the 7-footer into a dominant tackle player, has allowed Embiid to win scoring titles the past two seasons. It also sees the floor better than ever before, compared to a low box. Embiid watches and studies a lot of NBA basketball, which undoubtedly helped him become a better player. –Hoffman

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Jokić has bigger fish to fry

After a masterpiece of 39 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in the Nuggets’ 97-87 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of the second-round series on Monday, Jokic said he plans to be by the pool, weather permitting, when The MVP announcement came on Tuesday.

Interested in seeing if he would win a third consecutive MVP award and become the fourth player in NBA history to do so?

“Zero,” Jokic insisted.

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Joki’s competitive fires ignite. Somewhere deep down, he probably wanted to join that elite company. He clearly had a strong case after averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists (the most time for a quarterback) during the regular season while shooting a career-best 63.2 percent from the field and leading the Nuggets (6-1 in this) playoffs ) to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

But with Joki going on to carve out a career that could one day place him in discussion among the league’s all-time greats, an NBA championship, which would be the Nuggets’ first, will do more for his legacy than a third MVP trophy. –Nick Cosmider

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Antetokounmpo’s production was not sufficient

For the first time in his 10-year career, Antetokounmpo scored more than 30 points per game in a season. He finished the season with 31.1 points per game, to go along with 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. It was the first time since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1973 that a player had at least 30 points, 11 rebounds and five assists per game in a season and only the sixth time in NBA history.

To go along with his historic singles numbers, Antetokounmpo also led the Bucks to the best record in the league. The Bucks have the most wins in the NBA, despite the team’s second best player, Khris Middleton, who has started just 19 games this season and played in just 33.

But neither Antetokounmpo’s individual success nor that of the Bucks’ team seemed to resonate with voters this season as the Bucks’ two-time NBA MVP (2019, 2020) finished third in voting behind Embiid and Joki for the second consecutive season. –Eric Nehm

required reading

• Joel Embiid Unplugged: On the NBA MVP race, how it feels to enter the playoffs and the Sixers’ pressure to win

• The colorful world of Joel Embiid: trolling, deception, and sometimes outright annihilation

• Joel Embiid is here to control every big man’s breathing – a look at the strategy behind his trash talk

• Nikola Jokic pass and warning to all new Nuggets players: Hands up

• How Nikola Jokic’s love of horses fueled the fan campaign to ‘incredible’ effect

• Inside Nikola Jokic’s path from Serbia to Nuggets to NBA MVP. “Just some kind of lucky exploration.”

Giannis Unplugged: In the MVP race, the Bucks’ rise and why he’s ‘desperate’ to win them back

• How does Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to be great? by being “a little crazy”

• In the NBA MVP race, you don’t have to underestimate Jokić, Embiid or Giannis to make your man big

(Photo: Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

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