On the latest episode of JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, the former 76er and current ESPN analyst discussed several topics, including the Game 5 performance of ex-teammate Joel Embiid. The Sixers center struggled mightily in the 35-point loss and even had some — like fellow former Sixer Charles Barkley — questioning whether he was distracted by the fact that he had lost the NBA MVP Award to Nikola Jokić for the second straight year.
“First of all, you know Joel, I know Joel, anybody who’s been around Joel knows how much the MVP mattered to him,” Redick said. “I can tell you what matters more to Joel. I can tell you what matters more: winning a championship. And I’ve watched Joel now since he came back — you know, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5; he’s been back three games. I watched him in the Toronto series prior to the concussion. That [expletive] thumb is really bothering him. I mean, they showed a slow motion of him shooting and he shot a knuckleball from eight feet.
“Like, he is really struggling. He’s had a concussion, he’s got a fractured orbital bone. The fact that he’s playing is like, let’s give the guy his flowers just for playing. I just don’t buy this, ‘He’s sad so he’s having a bad game’ [explanation]. Come on, man, we’re better than that.”
“Are we better than that?” his cohost Tommy Alter asked.
“You hope so. You hope we are,” Redick replied. “The guy is wearing a [expletive] mask. He gets a ball punched into his face. Can he be better, Tommy? Yeah, he can be better.”
“By the way, [Thursday] night … if he has 35 and 18, they’re all going to shut the [expletive] up,” Alter fired back.
“Right, the whole night and the rest of the day, it’s going to be, ‘Joel should’ve been the MVP,’” Redick said. “I tease Stephen A. [Smith] all the time about this, and Stephen A. and just modern media in general, we all get trapped in being a prisoner of the moment and getting so reactionary to a single event.”
As for the MVP itself, Redick believes the voters got it right.
“I don’t know how to say this without inevitably getting blowback on this, but Jokić had the better season,” Redick said. “... The statistics, whether it’s traditional statistics or — everyone is up in arms about the advanced stats. I’m like, dude, the guy averaged a shade under 28 points, over 13 rebounds, and 8 assists in less minutes than Joel.
“Like, I don’t know why we’re so up in arms that Jokić won. I think the voters got it right, and that’s not an affront to Joel. I love him dearly — he’s like a brother to me — but Jokić should’ve been MVP. Had I had a vote, I would’ve voted for Jokić.”