LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) yesterday, comfortably winning a ballot ahead of the Denver Nuggets’ two-time award winner Nikola Jokic.
Embiid, who finished runner-up behind Jokic the past two seasons, earned the accolade after a dazzling regular season campaign that saw him average 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 66 games.
Embiid beat out fellow MVP finalists Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in a preferential ballot. Results revealed yesterday showed Embiid garnered 73 first place votes, with Jokic 15 and Antetokounmpo 12.
“I don’t know really where to start, it’s been a long time coming,” a delighted Embiid told the TNT network yesterday after his award.
“A lot of hard work, I’ve been through a lot. And I’m not just talking about basketball, I’m talking about life, my story, how I got here and what it took for me to be here.
“It feels good. I don’t know what to say. Amazing.”
The towering 29-year-old Cameroonian power forward helped the Sixers finish third in the Eastern Conference, but has sat out Philadelphia’s last two playoff games after suffering a knee injury in the game three first round defeat of Brooklyn last week.
Yesteday’s MVP honour cements Embiid’s status as one of the elite players in the NBA, the latest milestone on a journey that began when he was discovered at a basketball camp run by Cameroonian compatriot and former NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute.
After playing a single season of United States college basketball, Embiid was chosen by Philadelphia with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.