76ers' Joel Embiid sounds off on MVP award, slams overt media criticism of players trying to get accolades

Embiid led the league in scoring with 30.6 points per game and carried the 76ers to a fourth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. After the team’s 120-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 5 of their NBA playoffs series, Embiid was asked about Jokic taking home the hardware.

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Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball against the Heat during the playoff semifinals on May 10, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball against the Heat during the playoff semifinals on May 10, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. (Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

He said he wasn’t surprised Jokic was going to win the award.

“I mean, this is something that I knew weeks ago, even probably two weeks before the season ended, after those games against whether it was Denver and Milwaukee, and when [ESPN did its] straw poll or whatever. I just knew it wasn’t gonna happen,” the star center 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. Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Devin Booker, being on the best team in the league, by far. So, I guess, every year is all about whatever you guys decide, whatever fits the narrative as far as who’s gonna win.”

Embiid wondered “what else I have to do to win it, and to me, it’s like, at this point it’s like, it’s whatever.” He finished runner-up to Jokic last season as well.

Embiid did take issue with Bill Simmons’ comments about Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green. The Ringer founder said “f— Jalen Green” when talking about the young player for the NBA All-Rookie Team. Simmons later explained in a tweet, “I’m always leaning toward a rookie like Herb Jones who was meaningfully contributing to a decent team over someone putting up stats on a bad team.”

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Heat during the semifinals at FTX Arena on May 10, 2022, in Miami, Florida.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against the Heat during the semifinals at FTX Arena on May 10, 2022, in Miami, Florida. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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The 76ers star believed comments like that could sway the opinion of other media members who voted on awards like the NBA MVP.

“What if Jalen Green was in a position to earn a supermax, or I don’t know, an All-Star appearance and you got someone sounding like that, and he has a lot of power. [Simmons] can sway a lot of other media members,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s OK. So that’s really the only thing I said about those awards.”

Embiid has been playing in the playoffs with an orbital bone fracture and a torn ligament in his right thumb. He still managed to lead Philly in Tuesday’s loss with 17 points. He only shot the ball 12 times.

The official voting results have not been announced, but ESPN first reported Jokic would be named MVP.

The Nuggets center was the first player in NBA history to eclipse 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season. He averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists and guided the team to the playoffs despite missing two key teammates, Jamal Murry and Michael Porter Jr.

Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets during the Oklahoma City Thunder game on March 26, 2022, at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.

Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets during the Oklahoma City Thunder game on March 26, 2022, at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jokic will follow Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks as back-to-back MVP award winners. The Bucks star did it in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Stephen Curry did it in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Other back-to-back winners include LeBron James, who did it twice, Michael Jordan, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also did it twice. 

Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell each won three straight times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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