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Joel Embiid deserved to win MVP this year. Did he deserve to be ̶h̶o̶n̶o̶r̶e̶d̶ humiliated by his own local government?
It was not the intention of City Council to heap shame on the Sixers center, who has spoken many times about his love for Philadelphia. Embiid had a rough end to the season. His team made another early playoff exit, shortly after it was confirmed NBA voters had passed him over for the Most Valuable Player award.
Despite local lawmakers’ best intentions, their resolution naming the 7-foot star MVP — aka “Most Valuable Philadelphian” — mostly fell flat. A few folks thought it was cute, but the grand majority expressed dismay.
The type of response seemed to depend on whether someone lived in Philly or not.
National publications and basketball fans around the country focused on the fact that Council’s recognition was like a participation trophy. It held no real meaning, and might have served mostly to remind one of the best players the league has ever seen that he missed out on the MVP award again.
“Philly embarrasses Joel Embiid by making up an award so he can win something,” mocked a headline on Deadspin, in an article that continued, “Like holy smokes, do you have to kick him while he’s down?”
“This is the corniest thing I’ve ever heard. If I’m Embiid I’m requesting a trade asap,” read one typical quote of the tweet that announced the news to most of the world. The word “pathetic” came up in a lot of other tweets, as did “loser.”
A lot of Philadelphia residents, on the other hand, focused on the fact that Council has a ton of other issues to address. Potholes were brought up a lot, and responses also included pleas for the city’s governing body to deal instead with gun violence, affordable housing, or trash.
It’s not exactly a fair gripe. Philadelphia councilmembers do pass an inordinate number of meaningless resolutions — at least 16% of the 15,000-plus pieces of legislation pushed through over the past two decades. But drafting one takes much less time and effort than addressing any of those other pressing issues, and having city leaders officially express solidarity and pride can also serve a purpose.
Sportswriters pointed out the main problem with the move was Council’s lack of creativity.
“If you’re going to pander, at least pander in a way that might get a rise out of people,” wrote Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice. “Pass a resolution for the Sixers to trade for a defensive-minded forward or something.”
Otherwise, to most people, it’s just cringe.