As the Philadelphia 76ers geared up for their Game 2 matchup against the Atlanta Hawks at home, the NBA announced the league's winner for the Most Valuable Player award for the 2020-2021 regular season.
Although Sixers center Joel Embiid sat atop many leader boards throughout the year and was considered one of three finalists, he ultimately came up short for the award. Instead, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will take home the hardware.
Embiid made it clear throughout the year that he was motivated to earn the right to be called the league's most valuable. Back in April, the veteran big man believed he showed enough to win the award.
"There's no doubt [I'm MVP]," Embiid said, according to Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports. "The main thing that I'm always focusing on is winning. When you win, everyone on this team wins. If you're not winning, those things aren't going to come. My focus is always about winning the championship, and with winning comes rewards. I've been dominant all season. It feels like every time I have the ball, they send three guys on me, and I'm still able to do what I do best."
Embiid finished the season averaging a career-high of 28 points per game while knocking down 51-percent of his shots from the field and 37-percent of his threes. In addition to his offensive star power, the veteran center continued to flash dominance on the defensive end as well.
However, as much as Embiid's dominance on both sides of the ball remained a trend in 2020-2021, so did his injury concerns. Despite putting extra focus on taking care of his body, Embiid's health was still a concern at times throughout the regular season. With a condensed schedule of 72 games, Embiid appeared in 51 games.
Meanwhile, Jokic continued to dominate the NBA while remaining healthy. While both players had a strong case to win the award, Embiid came up short. How did he answer his snub? By dropping a playoff career-high of 40 points in 34 minutes in the Game 2 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night. Embiid was admittedly disappointed in the voters' decision to overlook him for Jokic. At the end of the day, though, he remains focused on something bigger.
“There are only some things I can control," Embiid said. "Obviously, as a team, we had a good year, and I was a part of it. It’s disappointing because, as a player, you work hard for moments like this. Then again, it’s out of my control, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I just got to come out every year, and you know, just be ready and do my job. I’m focused on the playoffs. I’m focused on winning a championship. Like I’ve been saying all season, we got a good chance. I’m not worried about these awards and stuff. If and when I’m holding that trophy, anything else won’t matter.”