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Joel Embiid gets his due, officially named NBA MVP

Joel Embiid made it five-straight NBA MVP awards to big players. Tom Haberstroh talks with Vinnie Goodwill and Michael Holley about the shift away from guards for the NBA’s highest individual honor.

For years, Joel Embiid has been the guy standing without a chair when the music stopped and the MVP was handed out. Nikola Jokić got two. Giannis Antetokounmpo won two.

This season it was officially Joel Embiid’s turn.

Embiid was voted the 2023 NBA MVP, winning by a comfortable margin over Jokić, who was second, and Antetokounmpo who came in third.

Embiid is the fifth consecutive international player to win the award, and it is the second consecutive year that the top three spots went to international players (the same three players, just in a different order).

Embiid got 73 of the 100 first-place votes, with Jokic getting 15 and Antetokounmpo a dozen. Tatum was expected to finish fourth, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander climbed to fifth. Of interest, Luka Dončić — who may have led the race for this award halfway through the season until injuries and a slump by the team hit — slid down to seventh. Here are the full voting results.

MVP voting

Embiid’s case is unquestioned: Leading the league scoring 33 points a game, and he’s had the first 33 and 10 season since the merger (code for “since Wilt Chamberlain did it a lot). He had more 35-point games than any team in the league, more 50-point games in a season by a center since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Embiid played high-level defense and led his team to the third-best record in the NBA.

The challenge for voters was that Jokić and Antetokounmpo had very valid cases as well. It was a matter of what different voters prioritized for the award, but Embiid’s strong finish to the season certainly helped his cause.

Embiid’s 76ers went up 1-0 on the Celtics in their second-round series without him as the newly-minted MVP is trying to recover from a sprained knee. His status for Wednesday’s Game 2 is up in the air.