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Embiid says play 'speaks for itself' in NBA MVP fight
NBA scoring leader Joel Embiid says he has taken his game to a higher level this season and his play "speaks for itself" in the fight for Most Valuable Player.
The 27-year-old Cameroonian 7-footer (2.13m) averages a league-high 29.6 points plus 11.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists a contest for the Philadelphia 76ers, who rank third in the Eastern Conference at 35-23.
"The play speaks for itself," Embiid said Saturday. "Every single night that's what I've been doing offensively and defensively, and I don't think I'm going to stop that."
The Sixers saw Australian guard Ben Simmons sit out the start of the season until he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that saw superstar James Harden come to Philadelphia in exchange, ending a distracting soap opera for the 76ers.
"Well, I don't really want to push for the whole thing," Embiid said Saturday of the MVP race.
"But the way I've been playing speaks for itself, especially with everything we went through, the drama this whole year, and obviously missing a big piece, and everything we added to our team and the way our team is set up."
Embiid says, however, that as much as individual statistics can power an MVP case, it will take team success by the Sixers to solidify his chances.
"Really had to take my game to another level, whether it's offensively, defensively or playmaking, and obviously I've got great teammates that give their all, and that's helping a lot," Embiid said.
"But it always goes back to winning. I know that for us to win I've got to be dominant. As long as we win, I'll be at that level and I'll have a chance to win it all and win the MVP."
Embiid, among the players preparing for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game at Cleveland, is among those who reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, a Serbian center for the Denver Nuggets, sees as his favorite candidates.
"As long as it's a big man, I'm going to be happy," Jokic said.
That could also open the door for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek star who ranks second in the NBA with 29.4 points a game and is level with Embiid for seventh in rebounds at 11.2 a game.
- Basketball dreamer -
Antetokounmpo, the 2019 and 2020 NBA MVP and last year's NBA Finals MVP for the champion Bucks, doesn't ponder his place among NBA all-time greats.
"I'm trying to win games and stuff, but I view it that at the end of the day you got to run your own race, and I got to be the best that I can be," he said. "Where that's going to take me, I don't know.
"How can I maximize my own potential? How can I at the end of the day when I finish my career, I look back and I gave everything? I hope I'm one of the best to ever play, but if I'm not, it doesn't matter to me because I know that I gave everything.
"I'm literally obsessed with basketball. I dream basketball. Every single night. I study the game. I watch other players. I do whatever I can to be ready to play the game. I take care of my body. I'm satisfied with wherever that lands me."
Antetokounmpo is hopeful that brings Milwaukee another crown after the Bucks ended a 50-year title drought in 2021.
"I do whatever I can today to be the best player that I can be today, and hopefully that puts me in a position that I can win the back-to-back title," Antetokounmpo said.
"I believe if we keep staying humble and hungry, we can do it again. The sky is the limit for us.
"Maybe we can do it again. Who knows? We're in a good place. We have a hell of a team."