Joel Embiid, who increasingly raises the tone for the MVP -on the track but also in front of the microphones-, left ‘planted’ Nikola Jokic in the appointment for the throne of the best player in the world at the least indicated moment, ruled out due to a leg injury calf, ‘erasing’ from the event depending on where you look at it. And, of course, Jokic went to apply the inescapable logic so that not only the Nuggets beat the Sixers despite Philadelphia’s final reaction (116-111), but also enjoying his solitude to score one of his abundant triple-doubles -25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists-, and hitting the Cameroonian with a good ‘sopapo’ in the hard-fought race.
Embiid did not appear, more than because he could not, because he didn’t want to. In his absence, the coach spoke for him, Doc Rivers, and he did not mince words when it came to admitting it:
“It was not a difficult decision for us. Everyone wants to see these guys compete against each other, but we’re going to take it easy and smart. We want them and the whole team to reach the playoffs healthy, ”Rivers said before a game that he also watched. James Harden from the stands, prudent before his discomfort in the Achilles tendon. Some young fans from Denver took the absence of the Cameroonian with sarcasm. “Lost person”, It could be read on his poster, knowing that he would not play for several hours before the crash.
Who knows if Embiid may not have ‘worked his luck’ on the day when the two major US media in NBA coverage, ‘The Athletic’ and ESPN, seemed to line up to lean towards the Cameroonian to give part of the right to the Nuggets coach, Michael Malone, who claimed in response to MD that the MVP conversation “had gotten really dark.”
If ESPN, in an in-depth analysis by Kirk Goldsberry, exposed the defensive weaknesses From Jokic -the second worst interior in the NBA defending layups and dunks and the fifth worst stopping penetrators among defenders who have defended at least 200 plays-, ‘The Athletic’ gave voice to Joel Embiid.
“Every year I don’t win the MVP for something”
In an interview with Shams Charaniathe pivot hardened his speech for the MVP, showing his desire along with a certain anxiety:
“The criteria for the MVP changes. If we want to talk about the last three years since I’ve been in the running for it, the first year I didn’t play enough games. Last year I came back, played enough games, led the league in scoring, and obviously Nikola (Jokic) deserved it and he won it. But, then again: he won as sixth in the West. And this year I’m leading the league in scoring, I’m doing all those things defensively… I should be on the Defensive Team too.” Embiid began by saying in his most forceful response, asked for the opinion of Giannis Antetokounmpo that the criteria for the award change every year.
“And I do not care, but every year is something. And when you add analytics to it, which doesn’t make sense. You can talk about analysis all you want. When you have some guys in the league, what you see is that they are not good defensively, but the analysis says that they are the best defenders. That’s when the analyzes don’t make sense at all. I don’t make the rules, I don’t choose the criteria that they use, so it’s really about people’s preferences,” Embiid added.
The inside of the Sixers feels like it’s something like ‘the bad guy’: “People thought I was crazy when I said this and I really think I’m not well liked. And it’s fine with me. I’ll be the bad boy. I’m like an idiot anyway. My thing is, when I retire, I want to make sure they look at me like… it’s hard to be the best ever because you have to win a few championships and not everyone is lucky because only one team can win. and you have to have the right pieces around you…but when I retire, I want to make sure they say: no one could stop him offensively or defensively, he was a monster. I would like to think that I’m a fucking monster”lamented the pivot.
“I’ve never won anything. Why is there pressure on me?”
Focused on winning his first ring, Embiid also highlighted his chemistry with James Harden, although he flees from the fact that winning the title this year is all or nothing:
“He could have won MVP the last two seasons. If I go into the playoffs with a title or fail mentality? Not necessarily. I don’t care about the pressure everyone puts on me. All the pressure that matters to me is the pressure I put on myself to win. People talk about who has more pressure to win, people mention me. I’m not at the top of that list, I’m not a two-time MVP nor have I ever been in the NBA First Five, I have never won anything. So why is there pressure on me to do something when there are guys who have won two MVPs, a bunch of MVPs, and they haven’t done anything either, ”she also stressed, in a clear reference to Jokican Embiid who is going a bit frustrated and anxious.