Embiid must 'be better' if he wants multiple MVP crowns

By Sports Desk May 04, 2023

Joel Embiid has been set the challenge of winning multiple MVP awards by his former high school coach.

Embiid was named the league's MVP for the first time on Tuesday, edging out competition from Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Philadelphia 76ers star returned from injury against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, though could not inspire his team to victory in Game 2 of their playoff series, with the Sixers going down 121-87.

While there is plenty of time remaining for Embiid to take control of that series, Justin Harden – who coached the 29-year-old during his senior year at The Rock School in Florida – says the Philadelphia talisman must continue to improve if he is to be named MVP again.

"Well, in order to get a second MVP he is going to have to be better, right? Because that's just kind of how it goes, you have got to be better than what you were before," Harden told Stats Perform.

"And you know, Nikola Jokic can attest to that. And Giannis can attest to that. And certainly, LeBron [James] can attest to that."

Harden, though, has full faith in 76ers coach Doc Rivers' ability to develop Embiid even further.

He said: "I trust Doc Rivers and what he's done and been able to do.

"But I think he [Embiid] carries a heavy burden as it is. I don't want to add any more to it, but just stay healthy. When you have a bunch of guys flying around at your feet, it's hard to stay healthy, but I hope he does."

As for the legacy Embiid could leave, Harden hopes his former student aims for the stars.

"I think there's no question, he's a top 10 player right now," he said.

"Some would question if he's a top-five player, but if he continues to play as he's been playing, then you start to get mentioned along with the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon. 

"They are the guys who won an MVP, who were centres who also led their teams to championships.

"I hope he's able to accomplish that, because every great player gets judged by their team's accomplishments, right? And whether they win a championship or not, that somehow knocks them down.

"I think that he's going to be considered one of the greatest and when you consider his footwork, his touch, his ability to shoot the mid-range and the three-pointers, really, you've only ever seen one guy in Hakeem Olajuwon like him.

"His idol is Hakeem Olajuwon, I'm sure it's just a great feeling to know that you're being compared to your idol. So that's pretty awesome for him."

The Sixers are aiming to win their first NBA title since 1983, but first they must get past the Celtics and advance to their first conference finals series since 2001.

Philadelphia hosts Game 3 of the series, which is tied at 1-1, on Friday.

Related items

  • NBA: Celtics overcome Doncic's triple-double for 10th straight win NBA: Celtics overcome Doncic's triple-double for 10th straight win

    Jayson Tatum scored 32 points and the Boston Celtics overcame Luka Dončić’s second straight triple-double in a 138-110 victory over the Dallas Mavericks for their 10th consecutive win on Friday.

    Jaylen Brown had 25 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 24 as seven Celtics scored in double figures.

    Doncic had 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his 12th triple-double of the season and 68th of his career.

    NBA-leading Boston knocked down 21 3-pointers and shot 55.3 percent (52-of-94) from the field to remain unbeaten since a loss to the Lakers on Feb. 1.

    The 10-game streak is the longest for the Celtics since a 10-game run during the 2019-20 season.

    Kyrie Irving scored 19 points against his former team but shot 9 of 23 as Dallas lost for the third time in four games.


    Antetokounmpo powers streaking Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 46 points and grabbed 16 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls 113-97 for their fifth consecutive win.

    Antetokoumpo shot 16 of 22 from the field, made 2 of 3 from long range and sank 12 of 16 free throws in his eighth 40-plus point game this season.

    Patrick Beverley scored 14 points and Brook Lopez added 12 for the Bucks, who improved to 8-7 under Doc Rivers and moved into a virtual tie with Cleveland for first place in the Central Division.

    Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan became the 35th player in NBA history to accumulate 23,000 points. He scored 12 points – all but two in the second half – and was 5 of 13 from the field after missing his first six shots.

    Coby White led the Bulls with 22 points and Nikola Vucevic added 17 with nine rebounds.


    Warriors win again on road

    Stephen Curry scored 25 points and Jonathan Kuminga added 24 to lead the Golden State Warriors to their eighth straight road win, 120-105 over the Toronto Raptors, who lost All-Star Scottie Barnes.

    Moses Moody had 17 points and Klay Thompson was next with 14 as the Warriors won their third straight and 13th in 15 games.

    Barnes broke his left middle finger late in the first half and the Raptors said he would be out indefinitely. He had 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes, ending a career-best streak of five consecutive double-doubles.

    Golden State overcame some troublesome travel after it had to switch planes following Thursday night’s win over New York. The Warriors endured a long wait on the tarmac, finally arriving at its Toronto hotel shortly after 7 a.m. Friday morning.

  • Fernando Alonso's Formula One legacy about 'what ifs', says Di Resta Fernando Alonso's Formula One legacy about 'what ifs', says Di Resta

    Fernando Alonso's legacy in Formula One will be defined by questions about what might have been, according to former Force India driver Paul di Resta.

    However, Di Resta hopes Alonso will not call time on his glittering career for some time yet, as the 42-year-old begins his second season with Aston Martin. 

    Alonso impressed en route to a fourth-placed finish in the drivers' championship last year, securing eight podium finishes in his first campaign with the team.

    The two-time world champion's future has been a subject of speculation throughout the offseason, with the Spaniard touted as a candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes when he joins Ferrari in 2025. 

    Ahead of Saturday's season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Alonso said he is yet to decide whether he will race at all next year, and Di Resta would be disappointed if F1 lost one of its biggest characters.

    Di Resta also believes Alonso will look back upon his short-lived move to McLaren in 2007 – and his subsequent switch back to Renault – with a few regrets. 

    "I've got a huge amount of respect for him. I wish he hadn't taken that [break] when he disappeared out of Formula One for a couple of years," Di Resta told Stats Perform.

    "I think the biggest thing with Fernando is what could have been, with the championships he probably should have won and the ones he came close to. 

    "Some of the choices he made, moving to teams… I'm sure he's not scared to talk about that. I think he's just a born racer, absolutely committed to it. 

    "His spatial awareness, in race starts or on the first lap, wheel to wheel, there's probably not many people like it. 

    "I will miss watching him. I hope he's around for a long time and I think he's showing that age is not a thing, he can still grab great results. 

    "I think he's happier than he's ever been, less emotional, he sees the journey for what it is, he probably sees the end is closer in that sense and he's milking everything he can from it.

    "I just love to see [Max] Verstappen, [Charles] Leclerc, Alonso, Hamilton in different teams going against each other, and I think people definitely respect what he's done, and he draws a lot of attention, and attention is a great thing for the sport."

    While reigning world champion Verstappen is expected to dominate again in 2024, Alonso is among a group of drivers looking to take race wins off Red Bull. 

    McLaren's Lando Norris is another with lofty ambitions for the new season, and Di Resta thinks the 24-year-old has a big future ahead of him.

    "I'd be surprised if he doesn't win a world championship, given his ability," he said. "I think the key for him will be reading where the best place to be for the future is, whether McLaren are back to being a consistent team to deliver a world championship. 

    "I think Lando definitely is up to that. Oscar [Piastri], he did a very good job for a rookie last year. He was a bit short of Lando in the races if you're being honest. 

    "In qualifying, he definitely had the measure and had the speed, so I'm expecting him to push Lando even more and I'm expecting him to be even closer to Lando. 

    "They've got great foundations and great team spirit to move forward. They will get into battles and you can see there's some frustration in their races with strategy and how it's going to play out, but Lando is very comfortable and I think he's probably in the top three picks within the grid."

  • No repeat of Red Bull 'runaway', but ex-F1 man backs Max for fourth title No repeat of Red Bull 'runaway', but ex-F1 man backs Max for fourth title

    Max Verstappen may be the clear favourite for a fourth straight Formula One championship, but Paul di Resta does not see Red Bull having it all their own way in 2024.

    Verstappen has dominated the sport in the past two seasons after pipping rival Lewis Hamilton to win his first title back in 2021.

    The Dutchman was champion by 146 points in 2022, then stretched that gap to a staggering 290 points last year as he won 19 of 22 races.

    Di Resta, who drove for Force India, hailed Red Bull's "incredible job" as they "pulled out a couple of wins they shouldn't have", but he expects Verstappen to at least have some competition in the coming campaign.

    "People will get closer this year, 100 per cent," Di Resta told Stats Perform. "It's not going to be a runaway like it was.

    "But to get on top of that at every grand prix with the advantage that he had at some tracks last year, I don't see how they can lose the championship, to be honest, unless somebody's got something hiding in the wind tunnel that they're going to bring out and surprise everyone with.

    "Over the course of the season, I think he'll get the job done.

    "I think he'll have a harder time at it, and I'd like to see them more in battle. I'd like to see them up against Lando [Norris], I'd like to see them up against Lewis, Ferrari in there as well.

    "The biggest thing is when it's closer, when you're having a bad day, you're having a bad day. When you're having a good day, you're having a good day. The swing was not big enough ever because he was always winning last year."

    Mercedes did not win a single race in 2023, but Di Resta sees the Silver Arrows as Red Bull's biggest rivals again in what is set to be Hamilton's final season with the team before joining Ferrari.

    "I think it'll be Mercedes," he said. "They've said they're coming out with a car that's very different, very different philosophy.

    "They are undoubtedly still one of the best teams in Formula One, and I think just when you look at the last 10 years and how they've gone about their business, you have to believe in that."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.