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by Davin Haley (8th)

The 2022-23 NBA season has been wild, and the fun is just beginning. With the
finals just a few weeks away, the MVP question has finally been answered with Joel Embiid winning the award for the first time almost unanimously. 

But the question has stood for months and even years as the same names keep showing up: Sixers center Joel Embiid, Nuggets center Nikola Jokić, and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo have showed up countless times in the MVP race with Jokić coming out on top within the past two years, and Antetokounmpo receiving the award in 2019 and 2020.

Sixers fans on the other hand have not been very patient while waiting
for Embiid to receive his longly anticipated MVP award.

Without any biases, stats can shake up the race and put in many different factors that can greatly increase or decrease the chances of getting that MVP trophy. In short, did Embiid deserve to win?

Starting with Nikola Jokić, this regular season he averaged 24.5 points, 11.8
rebounds, and 9.8 assists, all in 33.7 minutes(stats by ESPN). Looking over to Embiid in the regular season, 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists, all in 34.6 minutes. Last but not least is Giannis Anrerokounmpo who in the regular season has had 31.1 points,11.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists.

The problem with stats is that they don’t provide the whole picture. Stats do not
show how valuable a player is. How clutch they are, or how a player can impact the court as a whole, and that's where the analysts come in.

About a month ago from when this article was written, the MVP race was the hot
topic in the NBA, and ESPN was going crazy over it.

Analysts began to take sides. People sided with Embiid, and some with Jokić. At
this time it seemed that Jokić would be winning. Many different sports sites would be choosing Jokić as their predicted MVP winner. Sources like Sports Illustrated and Forbes made pieces about how Jokić could bring home his third MVP, but this is when something happened that nobody was expecting. Something that shifted tides so much in this race that if it was said just a little later, the whole MVP race may have been changed completely.

On March 1, 2023 Kendrick Perkins was on one of ESPN’s most popular shows
“First Take” Perkins brought up a certain argument to Stephen A. Smith. Perkins
mentioned that former MVP winners Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Nikola Jokić are all MVP winners who were not top ten in scoring. This stat seemed interesting, but maybe it was just showing how scoring is not a factor in getting MVP, but no.

Perkins stated that these three great players were chosen as MVP because of the color of their skin, and the supposed “racial bias” that the NBA has.

At that moment everything changed. Many different sites began to change up
their list putting Embiid at the top. What Perkins said went absolutely viral and people began to discuss the MVP race without even talking about basketball.
Thankfully, the waters began to die down and Perkins apologized. People have
begun to choose their MVP at free choice and not based on race. 

While the MVP race was truly a ride it seems fitting and deserving that Embiid took home the trophy. The more important question for Sixers fans right now isn't whether or not he deserved it (he did), but whether or not he can lead this team to win the NBA finals.

Image Citation:

"Kia MVP Tracker." Published 4-10-2023. Accessed 5-11-2023.