On a Monday night in Philadelphia, sporting their ‘City of Brotherly Love’ alternate uniforms, Joel Embiid and his Philadelphia 76ers showed no brotherly love in defeating the San Antonio Spurs 133-123. The story going into this matchup was how the otherworldly rookie center Victor Wembanyama would fair against the reigning MVP Embiid. With added relevance, this was also the 18th anniversary of Kobe Bryant‘s 81-point scoring game. With that in mind, Embiid hit 70 on Kobe’s anniversary, breaking Wilt Chamberlain‘s franchise record of 68 in a single game.

Any time you break a Wilt record, you are in peerless company. Embiid was simply sensational last night. Even more remarkable, was the ease in which he broke it. This was a true reminder to Wembanyama that no matter how good he is, there are levels here. Embiid showed the frighteningly high level he’ll need to reach to catch up to Embiid.

Joel Embiid Hits 70 on Kobe’s Anniversary

I highly doubt this is a coincidence, considering the individual scoring around the league Monday night—for instance, Karl-Anthony Towns62 against the Hornets. This further showed the impact Kobe still has, and will always have, in the league since his tragic passing. It all happened 18 years after Bryant’s 81 against the Raptors, the greatest scoring game since Wilt’s 100.

Embiid took a good run at that himself by breaking the franchise record of 70 in just 38 minutes! Furthermore, he was one off Allen Iverson‘s record mark of 60 after just three quarters. That is simply unreal.

It doesn’t say much for the Spurs interior defense, let’s make that clear. Jeremy Sochan was terrorized defensively, and Wembanyama was only effective on the offensive end. Anyone they put on the reigning MVP got torched by him.

His numbers were unreal: 24-41 shooting, 18 rebounds, 21-23 from the line, and 5 assists. Almost all Embiid’s points came in the paint, only needing one three-pointer for the record. This was old-school basketball—feed the ball inside and watch the center rip.

Old School Throwback in Historic Night

This had a ’90s feel – as the name of the game was to feed the ball inside to Embiid and watch him do the work. Just like the old days of Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon or Patrick Ewing. Before them, the two greatest centers of all time were of course Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Embiid proved he deserves to be in that conversation by breaking Wilt’s Sixers scoring record of 68.

This was a tale of two elite scoring centers going head to head. Wembanyama, for his part, put up 33 points in just 28 minutes. Only hitting two threes to reach that number, whilst going to the line and hitting 11-12. On a normal night, this would be another headline night for the unique rookie. But this wasn’t normal.

Whilst watching this game, it had an old-school vibe. This was a throwback game in a generation where the 3-point shot is king. Embiid did all his work in the paint. Whether it was from the elbow, mid-range jumpers, or at the rim, he was simply unstoppable. He was particularly cooking from the mid-range and just inside the arc. He blew Wembanyama away. Although they are both 7 feet, Embiid has a comfortable 70lbs on him, and it was no contest.

It was so comfortable for Embiid that he hit his 70th point with around 2 minutes left on the game clock, allowing him to leave the court to adulation and chants of MVP from the delirious home crowd.

Another MVP for Embiid?

With that 70, Embiid now raises his scoring average to a ridiculous 36 points per game, averaging a full point more than it was before Monday. Embiid is on a torrid span of 21 straight games of 30 points or more. To do that on a nightly basis is incredible. I have to argue he’s currently slightly in front of Nikola Jokic in the MVP race. Aided by his outdueling Jokic in their last matchup, when the Sixers edged the Nuggets 126-121 whilst putting up 41 points, and 10 assists.

This is very much a race between the two-star centers, indisputably the two best players in the league now. Jokic averaging nearly a triple-double for the season is remarkable—26 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists, for the reigning NBA Champions. Few would question that he’s the best player in the league. There’s nothing he can’t do on the court, and his IQ is off the charts.

However, Embiid averages 36 points, 11 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Outside the numbers, Jokic leads the league-best Denver Nuggets. But Embiid is carrying a far greater load. No doubt Tyrese Maxey has put up All-Star numbers as their second scorer, averaging 26 PPG. But make no mistake about it, this is Embiid’s show on a nightly basis. The Sixers don’t have nearly the depth that the Nuggets do, or that of their peers in the Eastern Conference. Consequently, Embiid has to put up monster numbers nightly to keep them among the top teams in the East. With that in mind, at the halfway point, my vote goes to Embiid for MVP. Without question, this race is going to be neck and neck from this point on.

As of now, the story is very much Embiid being just the 9th player all-time to score 70 in a single game. Doing a certain legendary Kobe Bryant proud, I’m sure. Whilst breaking the franchise record of another legend like Wilt. The future of the NBA is in good hands.

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.