The star of the Philadelphia 76ers, Joel Embiid, was selected as the NBA's Most Valuable Player on Tuesday, easily defeating Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, who has previously won the honor twice.
The award went to Embiid following a remarkable regular season performance in which he averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 66 games. The previous two seasons, he came in second place behind Jokic.
In a preferred vote, Embiid triumphed over Jokic and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, two other MVP nominees. Embiid received 73 first-place votes, followed by Jokic with 15 and Antetokounmpo with 12. Results were made public on Tuesday.
“I don't know really where to start, it's been a long time coming,” a jubilant Embiid told the TNT network on Tuesday after receiving his honor.
“I've worked really hard and experienced a lot. Furthermore, I'm not just talking about basketball; I'm also talking about my life, my journey, how I got here, and what it took for me to be where I am.
It's a pleasant feeling. I am at a loss for words. Amazing.”
The powerful 29-year-old Cameroonian power forward missed Philadelphia's final two playoff games after sustaining a knee injury in the first round victory over Brooklyn last week. He helped the Sixers finish third in the Eastern Conference.
The MVP award on Tuesday solidifies Embiid's place among the top NBA players; it is the latest achievement in a journey that started when he was discovered at a basketball camp organized by fellow Cameroonian and former NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute.
Embiid just played one season of collegiate basketball in the US before Philadelphia selected him with the third overall choice in the 2014 NBA Draft.
'BE A LEADER'
He missed the whole 2014–2015 season due to a foot ailment, and another surgery in 2015 prevented him from playing in the 2015–2016 season.
In October 2016, he eventually made his regular season debut with the Sixers against the Oklahoma City Thunder, recording 20 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.
Although Embiid's talent was obvious early in his NBA career, it has been under Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers, who took over the Sixers in 2020, that he has excelled.
The 280-pound (127-kg), 7-foot (2.13) big man is the focal point of Rivers' squad and game plan, and he also played a key role in Embiid's increased physical condition.
After being advised by Rivers to maintain top physical condition, Embiid engaged a personal chef and consults with a nutritionist.
In a 2021 ESPN interview, Embiid referred to Rivers' counsel as “he told me that I needed to be a leader.”
“If I returned in good form, it also signaled to my companions that it was time to go. Since Joel is prepared and in excellent shape after returning, you guys have no justification for being out of shape.
“So I took that action. I was moved by it.
This season, Embiid has honored Rivers' trust by putting on a string of outstanding games as the Sixers advanced to the playoffs.
He was able to win the NBA scoring crown for a second consecutive year because to his 33.1 point per game average and three 50-point outings this season.
He drove Philadelphia to a 103-101 victory against the Boston Celtics last month, becoming only the second player in NBA history, after the great Wilt Chamberlain, to have 50 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and 80 percent shooting in a game.