Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has been very clear that he feels he’s deserving of the NBA’s MVP award this season.
Yet for the second straight year, Embiid was edged out by Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.
“I’m not mad,” Embiid said on Tuesday night after falling in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Miami Heat, via ESPN. “That’s two years in a row I put myself in that position. It didn’t happen. It’s almost like, at this point, it is whatever. Whatever happens, happens.”
Nikola Jokic wins MVP over Joel Embiid
Jokic claimed his second consecutive MVP award this season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday ahead of an expected announcement later this week.
Jokic won the award over Embiid and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, which made him the 13th player in NBA history to win consecutive MVP awards. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in the regular season, and is the first player to hit 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
“I just knew it wasn’t going to happen,” Embiid said, via ESPN. “Obviously, congrats to Nikola. He deserved it. He had an amazing season. There’s no right or wrong. There was a lot of candidates, it could have gone either way … I guess, every year is all about whatever you guys decide, whatever fits the narrative as far as who’s going to win.”
Though Jokic was obviously deserving, Embiid’s numbers were just as good. Embiid averaged a career-high 30.6 points per game this season and won the NBA scoring title, which made him the first international player to do so and the first center to win the award in more than 20 years. The 28-year-old also averaged a career-best 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season.
Last month, he questioned what else he could be doing to claim the top award, and was at a loss.
“If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, I don’t know what I have to do,” he said. “I’ll feel like they hate me. I feel like the standard for guys in Philly or for me is different than everyone else.”
At this point, though, Embiid insists he’s ready to just move on.
"Last year, I campaigned about it,” Embiid said, via ESPN. “This year, I answered questions when I was asked, and in the next few years until I retire, it's almost like ... like I said, I wonder what else I have to do to win it, and to me, it's like, at this point it's like, it's whatever. It's all about focusing, not that I wasn't focused on the bigger picture, but you know, it's really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing."