MIAMI — Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid congratulated Nikola Jokic on winning the NBA Most Valuable Player Award for a second straight season, adding Tuesday night that there was “no right or wrong” answer among several deserving candidates.
But Embiid also said that, going forward, he’ll steer his focus toward only “the bigger picture” — winning a championship.
“No,” Embiid said, when asked if he was surprised when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that Jokic would again 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.
“Obviously, congrats to Nikola. He deserved it. He had an amazing season. There’s no right or wrong. There was a lot of candidates. He 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 was one of three finalists for the award for a second straight year, after putting together arguably the best season of his career — an NBA-best 30.6 points per game, along with 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a career-high 68 games .
“I’m not mad,” Embiid said of not winning MVP (the NBA is expected to make a formal announcement on the winner later this week). “That’s two years in a row I put myself in that position. It didn’t happen. It is almost like, at this point, it is whatever. Whatever happens, happens.
“Last year, I campaigned about it. 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’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.”
Embiid also took issue with a comment from The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, who said on a podcast last month, “F— Jalen Green,” when discussing Green’s possible candidacy for the all-rookie team while playing for the league-worst Houston Rockets . (Simmons later tweeted an explanation of his position).
Members of the media vote on NBA awards.
“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,” Embiid said. “[Simmons] can sway a lot of other media members
“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’s hopes of winning a championship this season hit a significant hurdle Tuesday night, as the Sixers lost to the Miami Heat 120-85 in Game 5 to fall into a 3-2 series hole. They’re one loss away from being bounced in the second round of the playoffs for a fourth time in five seasons.