Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) celebrates winning the Western Conference MVP Trophy and beating the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the Western Conference Finals for the 2023 NBA playoffs at Arena.

The NBA MVP debate was more lively this season than it’s been in recent years. Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić was vying to be the first man since Larry Bird from 1984-1986 and only the third player overall to win the NBA MVP in three straight seasons.

But it didn’t happen. The award went to Philadelphia 76ers center, Joel Embiid.

The NBA MVP is a regular-season award, with the voting being completed before the playoffs even begin. But Embiid and the 76ers flamed out in the second round, blowing a chance to defeat the Boston Celtics at home in Game 6, then getting routed in Boston during Game 7. That now looks especially bad, as the same Celtics are on the verge of being swept, trailing the Miami Heat 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into Tuesday’s Game 4 in Miami.

Jokić and the Nuggets, meanwhile, are going to the NBA Finals for the first time. They completed a four-game sweep of the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night. Jokić’s performance in the series earned him the Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson Trophy for the Western Conference Finals MVP, as well as high praise and a literal tip of the cap from LeBron after Game 4.

As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20. And seeing what happened in the playoffs, a lot of basketball fans were revisiting the 2023 NBA MVP debate.

[Photo from Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports]

About Michael Dixon

Michael is a writer and editor for The Comeback Media. Fan of most sports and a total nerd when it comes to sports history. Michael spent most of his life in the Bay Area, but lived in Arizona for 2 years and moved to Indiana in April, 2023.

Other loves include good tacos, pizza and obscure Seinfeld quotes.

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