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Denver Nuggets

Doc Rivers rips NBA MVP discourse: ‘It’s like we can’t celebrate people’

Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few seasons, MVP debates in the NBA have become way more heated, with fans seemingly becoming more and more passionate about their favorite players.

While there’s generally no issue in fans defending their favorite players, it seems like the debates have taken a somewhat dark turn.

Before his Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, Doc Rivers spoke out about the league’s MVP discourse.

Of course, 76ers superstar Joel Embiid and Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic are the two leading candidates for this season’s MVP award.

“It’s like we can’t celebrate people,” Rivers said. “The league is in a great place. It’s in an amazing place. You’ve got Joel Embiid and Joker (Jokic), two centers, in a non-center league, dominating the league. You’ve got Giannis [Antetokounmpo], and I always put him as a whatever, because we don’t know what [position] Giannis is, but he’s one of the best players in the league. Jayson Tatum is playing unbelievable. Kevin Durant, if he wasn’t hurt. You can just keep going.


“You can like them all, and you can actually not like one because you love the other one. But you don’t have to hate on anybody. I think we just need to get back to judging whatever your flavor is, and I don’t think you have to hate the other one, for sure.”

Rivers certainly makes some solid points, and he seems to feel the same way as Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, who said recently that Jokic has been turned off by the “ugly, nasty” debate this season.

Jokic won MVP honors in both 2021 and 2022, with Embiid coming in behind him on both occasions. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top this season.

Fans were hoping to see the two dominant centers go head to head on Monday night, but Embiid missed the game due to a sore right calf.

76ers guard James Harden also missed the game, but Denver wasn’t able to dominate and only squeaked by with a five-point win. Still, Jokic put up a monster stat line, recording 25 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists on 8-for-11 shooting from the field.

The win helped Denver solidify its standing as the No. 1 seed in the jam-packed Western Conference.

Monday’s contest was the second of two scheduled games this regular season between the Nuggets and 76ers. Therefore, the two sides won’t see each other again unless they both make it to the NBA Finals.

A championship series between Denver and Philadelphia would certainly be an exciting one, and it would give fans a chance to evaluate the two perennial MVP threats on a much bigger stage.


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