Right after the Sixers were eliminated from title contention in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Boston Celtics, the players from Philly were swamped by the press trying to look for answers that could explain their debacle.
The player who was most pressured by the media was none other than the reigning league MVP Joel Embiid, who after the contest reflected on the season. The press even furthered their investigations and asked the Sixers big man about James Harden‘s contract situation.
Joel Embiid: 13 points (4-16 FG)
James Harden: 9 points (3-9 FG) pic.twitter.com/PDYfSLyoNV
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 14, 2023
“It’s going to take more than us. We have to look at ourselves. I have to be better, and I will be better, that’s what I’m focused on,” Joel was brutally honest. “All of us, we have to come back and find ways to just keep improving and helping the team. You can’t win alone. We can’t win alone. Me and James, we just can’t win alone.”
Afterwards, the MVP seemed to take out his frustration on his teammates, even through Harden and himself only combined for 23 points that night. “That’s why basketball is played five-on-five. We need everybody to just keep finding ways to get better, and we’ll be fine,” he said.
However, the Sixers star’s optimism grew throughout the interview. “I still believe we have a chance to win, we have what it takes to win. I don’t know what’s going on, and I know he has a player option that can extend him, but that’s on those guys to figure it out. I’m going to stay out of it.
“I still believe that we have the chance to win,” he concluded.
Joel made a reference to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s take on failure to cover up their second-round elimination
Embiid just became the only MVP in the league to not advance to the Conference’s Finals stage in his career, even though the big man produced a stellar season averaging 33.1 points per match during regular season.
During the playoffs, his point average fell all the way down to 23.7 per contest, which is the biggest dropoff (-9.4) by a league’s best player in NBA history.
Check out the entire postgame interview with the MVP as Philly was eliminated in Game 7:
“I’ve already started figuring out how I need to get better for next year,” the center said postgame, just before quoting Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo about his views on failure.
“We got a unfinished job. We haven’t won anything, and I think we’ve got the chance to win,” he added.
“I’ve got a pretty good view of what I need to do to be better, to be a better basketball player. To keep improving every single year which I’ve done… Like someone said, “It’s not a failure, you know [there’s] steps to success.’”