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Joel Embiid on 76ers not getting LeBron James, Paul George or Kawhi Leonard: ‘I want to be better than those guys’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Philadelphia 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 6: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers hugs Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers after the game at the Wells Fargo Center on April 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Cavaliers 132-130. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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76ers coach and acting general manager Brett Brown openly chased stars this offseason.

But LeBron James (Lakers), Paul George (Thunder) and Kawhi Leonard (Raptors) all wound up elsewhere.

Joel Embiid, via Sarah Todd of

“When my season ended, there was a lot of talk about adding guys. I literally did not really care because I want to get better,” Embiid said during a conference call Wednesday from Johannesburg, South Africa. “I want to be better than those guys that were mentioned, if I’m not already better than them.”
“I want to win the MVP. I feel like at the end of the day it might be an individual award, but when I play better, the team also does,” Embiid said. “I feel like if I’m an MVP candidate or if I win the MVP, that means we are on another level.”

Many players recruit stars to their teams, but some dislike the practice. This attitude explains why.

Embiid wants to lead Philadelphia, not find someone who pushes him down the pecking order.

It’s a fine line. Embiid’s ambition can lead him to work hard to achieve his goals. But some players who want to be the man aren’t good enough to carry a team.

Can Embiid? Yes. But it’s also unclear just how much margin for error a championship hopeful would have with Embiid as its best player.

The good news for the 76ers: The 24-year-old Embiid should keep improving. Age is his big advantage over LeBron (33), George (28) and Leonard (27).

But this mindset also sparks questions about how Embiid will coexist with Ben Simmons long-term. Simmons sounds full of confidence in his own abilities, too. It hasn’t been a noticeable issue yet, but as Philadelphia rises, will Embiid and Simmons clash over alpha status?