Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving forever changed the game of basketball with his elite game, highlighted by his athletic ability and gravity dunks. The more basketball progresses, the harder it becomes to find new ways to revolutionize the game. So what will it take for current Sixers MVP Joel Embiid to surpass Dr. J in Philadelphia’s storied history?
VERY IMPORTANT! But there are three of them.
3. At least two MVPs win
One of the main criteria for determining whether a current player can become a legend is personal accolades. It is important to note that Dr. J first played in the defunct American Basketball Association (ABA) and then joined the 76ers when the ABA and NBA merged. Erving was named ABA MVP three years in a row and NBA MVP in 1981.
Given the competition then and now, Embiid would be well on his way to making Sixers history, more so than Erving, with an MVP award. It will be a tough task for the Cameroonian because there are so many talented young players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic in Cameroon. LeBron James, 36, shows no signs of slowing down and is still the subject of MVP discussions.
Even if a player does not volunteer during the season, his record weighs heavily in the voting. In the history of the NBA, there have been so many times that the player with the worst stats of the regular season won the game.
If one player wins a prize too often, voters can give others a chance. If that player is on a team that has a poor record despite his efforts, voters might take a different tack. If that player’s teammates are too good, voters might decide that his impressive performance is just a product of the talent around him. The variables are endless and different for each person, so really there has only been one unanimous NBA MVP.
2. led team to twochampionships
This is an even stricter requirement than the previous criterion. For a team to win a championship, so many things have to be right about the makeup of the team – the health of the players, the match-ups, and sometimes just luck.
During his historic career, Dr. J once won a ring in the City of Brotherly Love. This coincided with the arrival of the Moses Malone Center. Back to the importance of storytelling to player success: The regular season and post season with six players was absolutely dominant.
The Sixers have the best record in the league at 65-17. Malone boldly predicted the team would make the playoffs – yuck, yuck, yuck. He was a little off, as the Foo, Five, Foo team lost the game to the Milwaukee Bucks. There were fewer teams then.
If Embiid wants to play more than Erving, the Sixers need to win at least two Larry O’Brien trophies. It’s not enough to win, but to do so with a compelling storyline, whether it’s a bunch of overzealous losers or power brokers who have vaporized their competitors to the ring.
1. Have milestones
When you think of Dr. J, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? His Rock the Baby dunk, which even though it was done in the game, is still better than most dunks in slam dunk contests of the time? If not, should it be his ridiculous Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (8-foot) floor shot in the paint? Ironically, both moves were against the Los Angeles Lakers.
These are moments that stick in the memory of NBA fans, especially fans of the Sixers.
Of the three items on this list, this is the most subjective, because what is iconic to one person may just be special or inferior to another. Joel Embiid needs moments like this. It has the means to do so.
Embiid is 5-foot-8 and weighs 280 pounds. He has a physique you can only dream of. He plays powerful basketball, but at the same time his moves have grace and finesse. When the game is on the line, these moments become even more relevant.
These moments can occur at any time. Erving’s jump took place during a regular season game, while the jump from the baseline took place on the biggest stage of all.
Who knows, maybe Embiid will have his iconic moments against the Lakers?
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