Embiid the runaway winner as 2022-23 NBA MVP

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After runner-up finishes in the previous two seasons, Joel Embiid has finally won MVP honors.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ star center was announced as the NBA’s most valuable player on Tuesday, giving Embiid the league’s top individual award to go along with his second straight scoring title.

“It's been a long time coming,” Embiid said on TNT with his teammates gathered behind him. “A lot of hard work. I've been through a lot. I'm not just talking about basketball. I'm talking about my life. My story. Where I come from. How I got here and what it took for me to be here.”

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In 2020-21 and 2021-22, Embiid finished second in MVP voting to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who was a finalist again this year along with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Embiid finished with 73 first-place votes. Jokic finished second with 15 first-place votes, while Antetokounmpo was listed atop 12 ballots.

Embiid played 66 games this season, averaging 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting a career-high 54.8 percent from the field and leading the 76ers to a 54-28 record.

Despite Embiid’s gaudy numbers, Jokic and Antetokounmpo may have challenged for recognition as the league’s top player if not for a few key performances.

Embiid had 13 games with 40 or more points, including a career-high 59 points in November against the Utah Jazz and two other 50-point performances.

On Jan. 28, Embiid totaled 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in a victory over Jokic and the Nuggets.

With the regular season winding down, Embiid scored 52 points against the Boston Celtics on April 4. After that win, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers declared, “The MVP race is over.”

He was right.

Even a month ago, Embiid responded, “We have bigger goals in mind,” and the 76ers are still alive in the hunt for their first NBA title since 1983, although Embiid is again battling injuries in the postseason.

The 29-year-old Cameroon native sat out the final game of the Sixers’ first-round sweep over the Brooklyn Nets and missed their improbable Game 1 win over the Celtics on Monday.

Embiid has been listed as doubtful ahead of Wednesday’s Game 2 in Boston with a sprained ligament in his right knee.

Philadelphia is 5-0 this postseason despite Embiid leading the team in scoring in just one game, but the 76ers are sure to need the league MVP if they are to advance to their first conference finals series since 2001.

A six-time All-Star, Embiid has averaged 27.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.66 blocks in 394 career games since being the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Kansas.