As the All-Star break approaches, the MVP conversation has taken a turn that we haven’t seen before. The reigning MVP, Philadelphia 76ers’ Center Joel Embiid, can only miss six more games before he is disqualified from winning the award, despite leading the league in scoring with 35.3 points per game.
On Tuesday, Embiid sustained a left knee injury in the closing moments of the 76ers’ 118-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors. He is likely to miss time, which could make him ineligible for the MVP Award and All-NBA honors.
Players Verbally Frustrated With New Rule
Warriors forward Draymond Green had this to say on his podcast following the game: “You get Joel, who comes out there tonight because he’s three games away from not qualifying to win MVP, and he forces it.”
Green isn’t the only player who thinks the new rule is unfair. Embiid’s teammate Paul Reed feels that the rule was forced upon the players by the league.
“I didn’t sign up for that. I don’t remember signing no paperwork, you feel me?” Reed said in the locker room after Tuesday’s game. “I guess the union okayed it. They probably didn’t have choice though, to be honest. Yeah, it’s tough. It adds a lot of pressure to the player.”
The league has been trying to make the regular season games more exciting and meaningful, with the new In-Season Tournament and Play-In. The fans and the commissioner hate to see players sit out, but the players see it from a totally different perspective.
Obviously, the goal for every game is to win. But the reality is that you don’t need to win 82 games to compete for a championship. We live in an era where the star players won’t suit up every game for various reasons. Sometimes multiple stars in one night.
With that being said, the number of games missed shouldn’t be held against the players.
Teams are already penalized for sitting out in certain situation. The 76ers were recently fined $75,000 for not reporting Embiid’s knee soreness against the Denver Nuggets this past Saturday. Now, with the new rule, players can miss out on supermax contract extensions if they don’t play at least 65 games.
“You got guys forcing it, trying to get back so they can qualify because guess what? These awards are very much so attached to the amount of money that you can make,” said Green.
Out of the 15 All-NBA players from last season, five played less than 65 games. Even though Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists, he would not qualify for All-NBA honors, which is ridiculous.
“We all know when somebody’s egregiously just sitting and the difference when somebody’s actually hurting,” Green continued. “So if you don’t have a core base of voters who can identify that then maybe they shouldn’t have a vote.”
Embiid is likely to miss time, and it would be a discredit to the league is he doesn’t qualify for these awards. The 65-game rule is disrupting many players’ routine when preparing for games. Players aren’t necessarily forcing themselves into harms way, but are forced to change the way they approach each game.
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