Even though Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid was snubbed for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award, he won some love in his adoptive city May 19 after the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution to name him the real MVP — that is, Most Valuable Philadelphian.
At first, people thought the report was a joke. Outlets like Deadspin, Philly Voice, BarstoolSports, and CBS Sports all mocked the controversial honor. Doesn’t Philadelphia City Council have better things to do than waste time on trivial honorifics like this? Like shutting gun violence down and sheltering the homeless? Apparently not.
Arso released the full resolution which included 15 “WHEREAS” sections dedicated to Embiid’s greatness, starting with his birth in Cameroon and college career before rattling off all his 2021-2022 accomplishments. The document ended with the following tribute:
WHEREAS, Joel Embiid has been a dedicated team member of the Philadelphia 76ers for years, has gained numerous accolades, and led the team through numerous games and tough battles on the way to victory; and,
WHEREAS, Joel Embiid is deserving of the distinction of MVP; now, therefore, be it.
RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That it hereby celebrates Joel Embiid as MVP: “Most Valuable Philadelphian.”
FURTHER RESOLVED, That an Engrossed copy of this resolution be presented to Joel Embiid as evidence of the sincere respect and admiration of this legislative body.
The 7-footer also grabbed 11.7 rebounds per game while shooting 49.9% from the field and breaking long-standing records held by franchise icons Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson along the way. Not for nothing: Embiid played with a right orbital fracture and a torn ligament in his right thumb in the postseason.
“I don’t know what else I have to do to win it,” Embiid told Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia on May 10. “To me, at this point, it’s whatever. It’s all about focusing — not that I wasn’t focused on the bigger picture — but it’s really trying to put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.”
After the Sixers’ early playoff exit — the Miami Heat beat them 99-90 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals — head coach Doc Rivers tried to put everything in perspective. He instructed people to “celebrate” Embiid’s amazing year.
“I think we should celebrate Joel,” Rivers told reporters after the game on May 12. “Jokic is a worthy MVP, but so is Joel, and so is Giannis. Joel went through a lot this year, having to shoulder the load for most of the year, and he did that.”
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Embiid Updates His Health/Recovery Plan
Embiid was bruised and battered throughout the postseason but still averaged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds in 10 playoff games against the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat. Now the Sixers’ big man heads into an offseason filled with unknowns.
Roster decisions aside, Embiid needs to get healthy. He said after Sixers’ Game 6 loss to Miami that he expected to get surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb while letting a broken orbital bone heal on its own. The five-time All-Star explained his rehab and recovery plans in the postgame press conference.
“Tonight I tried to be on the floor really the whole game and I didn’t want to take any breaks,” Embiid said. “The season was on the line, so I just wanted to do whatever I could and not regret anything. And, as far as the next step — obviously I got to talk to these guys but the last time I checked was that definitely surgery for the thumb injury.
“As far as my face, the last indication was that [surgery] wasn’t needed. So I just have to have conversations with them and figure out what is needed.”
Risking His Body, His Blood, His Sweat, His Tears
Georges Niang was one of many teammates to marvel at Embiid’s selflessness by playing, despite his ailments, in a career-high 68 games in the regular season and gutting out 38.5 minutes per game in the postseason.
Sixers team reporter Lauren Rosen tweeted on May 13 a quote from Niang, who said, “He’s a furious competitor. Joel would do anything for this organization and his teammates, and I think he showed that. He showed up every night and was willing to put himself out there, try to win, and bring this organization a title.”
Heroic? Sure. More than that, Embiid was the embodiment of a warrior and someone the guys in the locker room trust to get them over the championship hump.
“I think that’s at the forefront of his mind: How can he better himself to get this team to the top? I think you don’t find that every day in professional sports,” Niang said. “So to be around someone who is willing to risk their body, their sweat, their blood, their tears to get an organization to the top, I think that’s a unique characteristic and it was amazing to be around that work and see that work every single day.”