Sometimes the littlest things can have the biggest impact.
Take the scene in Philadelphia recently where Joel Embiid was presented with the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. Embiid has been in the pursuit of the Michael Jordan Trophy, coming thisclose the last two seasons to winning it.
After NBA commissioner Adam Silver presented the 76ers towering 7-foot, 280-pound center with the hardware, Embiid’s young son, Arthur, came tearing across the court to hug his father. Ever see a man that size cry?
“Honestly, he’s the main reason why I’m really here,” Embiid said. “Becoming a father changed my whole life. I just wanted to show him a good example, and I’m glad he’s here with us.”
A Decade of MVPs
Philadelphia fans are glad to have their MVP center who became the fifth player in franchise history to win the prestigious award. He joins this list of superstars:
Wilt Chamberlain 1960, 1966-68), Julius Erving (1981), Moses Malone (1983), and Allen Iverson (2001).
So now comes the next step. Can Embiid lead the 76ers to their first NBA title since 1983?
The 76ers are +800 to +1100 to end that drought. The Boston Celtics are the favorites at +165 and the two are meeting in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
But Embiid deserves to enjoy the moment. He finished second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic the last two seasons. Embiid made some questionable comments about Jokic’s game this season, one of the few glimpses into how badly Embiid wanted to win the award.
Preseason MVP Favorites
Embiid (+600), Jokic (+700) and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (+800) were the three favorites to win the award at the start of the season and it remained a close race throughout. Although one game doesn’t decide the prestigious award, it was one game against the Celtics that might have made separated Embiid from the pack.
He poured in 52 points on 20-of-25 shooting in a 103-101 victory over the Celtics on April 5th. It was late enough in the season to stick in the voters’ minds and it came with a seal of approval. When asked about the MVP race, 76ers coach Doc Rivers declared the race was, “Over.”
It was, and it was well deserved. Embiid led the league in scoring (33.1 points) to go along with 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists. The 76ers had the league’s 8th-best defense, anchored by the man in the middle. The Sixers finished the season with a 54-28 record, good for the third in the Eastern Conference behind the Bucks and Celtics.
Embiid got 915 votes. Jokic was second at 647 and Giannis was third at 606.
“It’s been a long time coming, a lot of hard work,” Embiid said. “I’ve been through a lot. I’m not just talking about basketball. … It feels good. I don’t know what to say. It’s amazing.”