76ers' Embiid wins NBA's top individual honour
Philadelphia 76ers centre and league scoring champion Joel Embiid has earned his first NBA MVP trophy, edging two-time winner Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
The 29-year-old from Yaounde, Cameroon, averaged 33.1 points to win his second straight scoring title, averaged 10.2 rebounds and tied a career high with 4.2 assists per game. Embiid played in 66 games, the second-highest total of his career, but again has been hit with injuries in the playoffs.
Embiid has been sidelined with a sprained right knee that cost him one game of the playoff sweep against Brooklyn and the opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against Boston, which was won by Philadelphia on Monday night.
Jokic finished runner-up and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was third.
"It's been a long time coming," Embiid said on Tuesday.
"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."
The third overall pick of the 2014 draft, Embiid missed his first two full seasons with injuries before settling in as one of the top big men of his generation.
Embiid's latest injury could be the deciding factor in the 76ers' chase for the championship. The Sixers are trying to win their first NBA title since 1983 and advance past the second round for the first time since 2001 -- which was the last time a Sixer won the MVP award.
Allen Iverson was named league MVP in 2001. Other 76ers to capture the league's top individual award: Julius Erving (1981), Moses Malone (1983) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968).
"I am absolutely thrilled for Joel on winning the MVP award. He is the real deal and deserves every bit of recognition that comes his way," Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said.
"He embodies everything that the honour stands for. His drive to improve is unmatched, and like the saying 'a dream doesn't become reality through magic, it takes hard work', he's put in the work."
Sixers fans can enjoy Embiid, who became an American citizen last year, for years. His four-year, $196 million ($A294m) contract extension doesn't kick in until next season and takes him through 2026-27.
He holds career averages of 27.2 points and 11.2 rebounds in 394 career starts. He's a four-time All-NBA selection and three-time All-Defensive Team selection.