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Joel Embiid: Philadelphia 76ers center named NBA MVP for first time in career

Joel Embiid wins the NBA MVP award for the first time in his career having led the league in scoring for a second straight year after finishing runner-up in voting for the award behind back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, who was second this year.

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Joel Embiid gets emotional after being named NBA MVP as he celebrates with his Philadelphia 76ers teammates

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was named the 2022-23 NBA Most Valuable Player on Tuesday night, clinching the award for the first time in his career.  

Embiid, the runner-up in each of the past two years, beat out Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, who had combined to win the past four MVPs.

The Sixers' big man, who is from Cameroon, received 73 of 100 first-place votes from a panel of broadcasters and journalists and received 915 total points. Jokic placed second with 15 first-place votes and 674 points; Antetokounmpo received the other 12 first-place votes and had 606 total points.

Embiid is the second player from Africa to win the prestigious award, joining only Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94). He is also the first 76ers player to take home MVP honours since Allen Iverson in 2000-01.

"I don't even know where to start," Embiid told TNT's 'NBA Tip-Off' in a remote video call from Boston, where the 76ers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series on Monday.

"It's been a long time coming. A lot of hard work. You know, I've been through a lot, and I'm not just talking about basketball. I'm talking about everything in life, my story and where I come from and how I got here and what it took for me to be here."

Embiid led the league in scoring for the second straight year, posting a career-high 33.1 points per game to go with 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 blocks.

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He shot a career-high 54.8 per cent from the field, thanks to 58.7 per cent shooting from inside the arc. Embiid added 66 three-pointers and 66 steals.

The 29-year-old has been an All-Star every season since 2017-18 and made the All-NBA second teams in 2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The 76ers managed to beat the Celtics 119-115 without Embiid available in Game 1 due to a knee injury. The injury is widely reported to be a Grade 1 LCL sprain, and Sixers coach Doc Rivers told reporters Embiid is doubtful for Game 2 on Wednesday.

TNT host Ernie Johnson asked Embiid if he would take the court for Game 2.

"We shall see," Embiid said.

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James Harden dropped 45 points whilst Tyrese Maxey got 26 points with 12 rebounds in the 76ers' Game 1 win

Embiid had his team-mates sitting behind him when he appeared on the broadcast.

"First of all, I thank all of them because I couldn't have done it without them," he said. "Obviously we've been winning a lot and the work that they put in to trust me and put me in positions to succeed has been amazing and they've given up a lot for me.

"We're going to celebrate for five minutes and then we're going back to business. We got a series to win. I'm just so proud of them, obviously, winning yesterday (Monday). That was a big one and we've got a few more coming. I'm just so proud of them to be able to make sure to give me some time to really allow me to heal and get back to myself. And I'll be back, and we've got more work to do."

Antetokounmpo won back-to-back MVP awards in 2019 and 2020 and Jokic was going for his third consecutive MVP.

Jayson Tatum of the Celtics collected 89 fourth-place votes and one third-place vote to finish fourth in voting at 280 points, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder (46 points) rounded out the top five after a career year.

For the first time in his career, LeBron James did not receive a single vote for MVP.

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