From the moment Nikola Jokic was announced NBA MVP for the second-straight season, people around the basketball community were up in arms. After an incredible campaign that involved leading the league in scoring, many felt this was the year for Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid.
Over the past 24 hours, we have seen countless fans and analysts weigh on the decision. Following the Sixers’ Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat, Embiid himself opened up on falling short of MVP honors yet again. He was quick to congratulate Jokic for his play this season and personally felt the award could have gone either way.
“This is something that I knew weeks ago… I just knew it wasn’t gonna happen. Obviously, congrats to Nikola. He deserved it. He had an amazing season. There’s no right or wrong. There was a lot of candidates.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Along with appearing in a career-high 68 games this season, Embiid posted new personal bests in points (30.6) and assists (4.2) per game. This leap in production still wasn’t enough for the All-Star center to win over voters. After all he did for the Sixers this season, Embiid is now wondering what more he needs to do to take home the award that has eluded him twice.
“I don’t know what else I have to do to win it and, to me, at this point, it’s whatever… Not that I wasn’t focused on the bigger picture, but it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nick Wright Comes to Defense of Joel Embiid
Following Embiid falling short of MVP, fans were expecting a statement response in a pivotal Game 5 in Miami. Unfortunately, that did not happen to be the case. Like the rest of his teammates, Embiid struggled en route to a blowout loss.
Embiid still led the Sixers in scoring, but not in the dominant fashion most wanted to see. In 33 minutes of action, he tallied 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor.
This performance led to some backlash for Embiid, most notably from former Sixer Charles Barkley. At halftime and after the final buzzer, he brought up that he felt Embiid was too caught up in the MVP decision and not focused enough on the game.
While most were quick to slander Embiid, FS1’s Nick Wright rushed to his defense. He took to Twitter to remind everyone of everything he is going through injury-wise as he attempts to lead his team to the conference finals.
Injuries Becoming too Much to Overcome
Embiid deserves a ton of credit for continuing to take the floor for the Sixers. Between the broken orbital bone and injury to the thumb on his shooting hand, he is pushing his body to the limit instead of leaving his team hanging on the game’s biggest stage.
Based on Embiid’s comments following Game 5, everything he’s going through might be too much to overcome:
“I thought coming in, I had the right mindset… There’s a lot going on. Sometimes, your body just won’t allow you to be yourself. Those moments, you just got to keep pushing, hope for the best,” said Embiid.
With the fate of their season hanging in the balance, the Sixers need Embiid as close to 100% as they can get. They have just one off day to mentally prepare themselves for a win or go home scenario on their home floor in Game 6.