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MVPiid: Former Jayhawk Embiid Wins MVP

Well folks, what has felt long overdue has finally happened. Former Jayhawk and current Philadelphia 76er Joel Embiid has won his first MVP. It's been a long, hard journey for Jojo, but he's reached a milestone a lot of NBA Hall of Famers, let alone NBA players, don't see. Let's go over how we got here.

Joel Embiid first started playing basketball at 15 years old in his home country of Cameroon. Originally, he excelled in soccer and in volleyball. Embiid's height and raw skill though could not be ignored, drawing comparisons to NBA greats like Hakeem Olajuwon even this early into his career. He was not discovered though, by US basketball coaches and players at least, until he attended a camp ran by fellow Cameroonian and NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute at 16. From there, he found himself being taken under the wing of many mentors and trainers, including Mbah a Moute, and found himself going international on the path to becoming a professional basketball player. A five-star recruit after etching out an elite high school career at The Rock School in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Kansas took notice. Embiid committed to KU in 2012, playing one year, being named a Naismith finalist after earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors as well as 2nd team All-Big 12. A significant back injury halted his career at KU however, and he missed out on postseason play that could have cemented his case for being the best player in college basketball that year.

Embiid still declared for the 2014 NBA Draft after his year at KU. He was selected 3rd overall even after being ruled out for 4 to 6 months post-back surgery, highlighting just how much potential Embiid had. After a few setbacks with his back and another injury to his foot that kept him out, he missed two whole seasons. It did not look good for Jojo's career, but both he and the Sixers persevered. The wait paid off, and the trust in "The Process" (as Embiid later came to be known) resulted in Embiid winning belated All-Rookie honors after averaging 20.2 PPG, 7.8 rebounds/game, and 2.1 assists off 25.4 minutes/game. Jojo had arrived, and was here to stay. He's become the cornerstone of this Sixers team, averaging over 20 PPG every season he has been healthy, and recently pushing the envelope to averaging 30 PPG over these past couple of years. In fact, since the '17-'18 season, he's averaged a points/rebound double-double average every single year. He's earned 4-time All-NBA honors, he's a 6-time All-Star, a 2-time scoring champ, and has now earned his long-awaited MVP. An unreal career that shows zero signs of stopping, Joel Embiid's Sixers are still in the title chase this year, stealing a game at TD Gardens against the mighty Boston Celtics.

The former Jayhawk has done more than impress, he's conquered monumental odds and has shown passion, gumption, and undying love for the game he started playing a little over a decade ago. He's shown toughness rarely seen in the NBA these days, an unwavering, fun personality that both entertains and infuriates some, and has built an already massive legacy in Philadelphia and, even though he only played a year, in Lawrence. He's more than earned this MVP, and it warms my heart he's finally won. If he can win a title, he'll be right up there with Wilt Chamberlain as not only the best Sixer/Jayhawk of all time, but one of the best big men to ever play in the NBA. Congrats to Jojo, and good luck with the rest of the Playoffs.

P.S. My mom says hi and thanks for the picture back in 2013. Totally not jealous I couldn't get one too...

Burn Notice: 10/10 If he played for the Heat this would be easier to come up with something here...

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