Speaking to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, Sixers star Joel Embiid referred to the honor as one he has dreamed about since he started playing basketball, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. Embiid also expressed pride at having defied the odds, given that he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 15 years old in his home country of Cameroon.
“Probably the probability of someone like me, starting playing basketball at 15, to get the chance to be the MVP of the league is, I’d say, probably negative zero,” Embiid said. “… We don’t have a lot of opportunities back in Africa in general to get to this point. But improbable doesn’t mean impossible, and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. As long as you believe in it, and you know keep walking hard, anything can happen.”
While Embiid stressed that winning an NBA title would be more meaningful than taking home an individual award, he made an effort not to downplay the achievement and its importance to him.
“Obviously winning a championship is going to be way better and we have that opportunity. But I’m just competitive. I want it all,” he said. “I want to win everything that I can get my hands on and everybody around me knows that. It doesn’t matter if it’s about basketball or if you’re playing a game in life or whatever. I want to win everything. I want to be first.”
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have silenced doubts about their fit in the last year or two, but a second-round postseason exit by the Celtics might raise new questions about Brown’s long-term future in Boston, says Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “Jaylen is 26 years old,” one Western Conference coach told Deveney.” He is maybe the best No. 2 option in the league, or right there with LeBron (James) and (Anthony Davis), or Devin Booker–(Kevin) Durant in Phoenix. It is a good thing to be the best No. 2 option, but at his age, I don’t think Jaylen sees it that way. He is good enough to be a No. 1 option for half the teams in the league and maybe he wants that challenge.”
- The Nets had preliminary conversations about Hawks big man John Collins prior to the trade deadline in February and some executives wonder whether Brooklyn could circle back on Collins this offseason, Deveney writes for Heavy.com. However, there’s skepticism that the Nets would be able to make a play for Collins without moving Ben Simmons, and Simmons’ trade value will be extremely limited.
- Eric Koreen of The Athletic considers whether Thaddeus Young‘s expiring contract could be a useful trade asset this offseason for a Raptors team that will be looking to upgrade its rotation. Young seems more likely to be waived than traded, since his $8MM salary for 2023/24 is only guaranteed for $1MM. His outgoing salary for matching purposes in a trade would be equivalent to his partial guarantee, so the Raptors would have to increase that guarantee in order to take back a mid-sized contract, which would reduce Young’s value.