Despite his longtime Philadelphia 76ers ties, Sixers legend Julius Irving (Dr. J) picked Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic over 76ers big man Joel Embiid.
As the NBA season draws to a close, MVP votes are being cast by all who watch the game. Three big men continue to dominate this conversation—Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic—but Jokic has been a clear frontrunner in light of another powerful season.
And despite his 76ers loyalty, Dr. J agrees. The iconic small forward who played for Philadelphia from 1976 to 1987 divulged that while he hopes Embiid wins it, Jokic is the most deserving candidate in 2022.
“I’m hopeful that Embiid wins it, because he does talk about it and it’s something that—it’s one of those carrot tops there that he’s reaching for—but I think the most deserving guy is Jokic,” Erving told Rich Eisen. “He hasn’t missed any games, and night in and night out, he’s done better than he did last year—and he was MVP last year!” Erving chuckled. “When you get better, I don’t think you lose status, not if it’s a fair fight.”
“I’m gonna pull for Embiid because he’s my guy, and Antetokounmpo, who knows how he’s going to finish up? But Embiid and Antetokounmpo have missed several weeks of play. Jokic has been out there every night.”
Dr. J is pulling for Joel Embiid, but Nikola Jokic is “the most deserving” MVP
The general consensus in the NBA tends to agree with Erving: Nikola Jokic remains the frontrunner for the 2021-22 MVP.
A recent ESPN straw poll pegged Jokic as the eventual winner, with Jokic winning 62 out of 100 votes in their third and final straw poll of the season. In the secondary poll conducted in mid-February, Embiid had the lead over Jokic, but Jokic has pulled ahead since then.
Although Embiid’s storyline and play this year has been nothing short of admirable, with Embiid largely credited for leading the 76ers to the NBA Playoffs, Jokic has been a picture of power and consistency. And Jokic has his own difficulties this year, too. Without Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, Jokic found a way to elevate his game—and as Dr. J noted, he was the MVP last year.
What Dr. J’s vote demonstrates is that although he would love to see a Philly guy win, the award should go to the Denver candidate once again.