Kendrick Perkins deserves big assist for Joel Embiid landslide MVP award
Joel Embiid won the NBA MVP award on Tuesday in a landslide, and Kendrick Perkins deserves a big assist for the results.
Embiid received 73 of the available 100 votes for NBA MVP as he captured his first ever NBA MVP award. He had a great reaction to learning the positive news too (video here).
In early March, Nikola Jokic was the heavy favorite to win NBA MVP according to most online sportsbooks. But that all changed after Perkins stepped in.
The ESPN analyst hit the pause button and forced everyone to reconsider whether Jokic deserved to win three straight MVP awards. Perkins didn’t just want to evaluate whether Jokic deserved MVP this season, but whether he deserved to be a three-straight MVP winner. Moreover, he accused NBA MVP voters of being racist for choosing the white Denver Nuggets center as MVP over the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Embiid, who are both black. Mind you, several MVP voters are black, and many of them voted for Jokic the last two years because they felt Jokic most deserved the award.
It didn’t matter whether Perkins’ stats were completely cherry-picked to worsen Jokic’s argument, or whether his data on the race of MVP voters was incorrect. As soon as he accused NBA MVP voters of being racist for simply voting for whom they felt was most deserving of the award, he made it impossible for Jokic to win.
After Perkins’ accusation — you are racist if you vote for Jokic — voters were scared away from voting for the Nuggets big man out of fear of being called racist. They know their names are attached to those picks and that the information would be released publicly. To wit, only 15 people were bold enough to vote Jokic for MVP this year.
Additionally, after Perkins made his accusation, it seemed like Jokic didn’t even want to win the award. All he was doing was trying to win games, and he was being dragged into an argument about race. It’s no surprise that the Nuggets promptly slid into a brief losing streak, which allowed Embiid to emerge.
Embiid previously finished second in MVP voting two years in a row behind Jokic. He is a great player, and he set career-high marks by averaging 33.1 points per game on 54.8 percent shooting this season. He also helped his 76ers earn the third-best seed in the East. He is no doubt deserving of the MVP award, just as he was deserving the last few years; that’s why he has been a top contender.
But the vote should have been closer — and it would have been — had Perkins not made the asinine accusation that voting for Jokic was equivalent to donning a KKK robe.
It’s sad that Embiid didn’t just win the MVP outright because his play throughout the regular season stood out more than anyone else’s in the league, but because he got help from a race-baiting ESPN personality.