Philadelphia 76ers superstar Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic haven't played a game against each other in 825 days leading up to Monday's game.
They've been the top two MVP candidates over the past two seasons, so Monday night's game was anticipated to be a blockbuster as the MVP race is closer than it has been.
But ahead of Monday's game, both Embiid and Jokic took the time to praise each other's style of play. They both acknowledged that they watch each other's games regularly. No, they're not text mates or best friends, but they share a mutual respect for each other.
"Like for real, great, great player. He can do everything on the floor. He can control the game and is in contention for the MVP and the best player in the league. He's so dominant." Jokic, who talked about Embiid before Monday's game
"He's a monster. What he's able to do on the basketball floor, it's crazy. From big man to big man, I'm happy that you can look at him as the most dominant player in the league," Embiid said, this time about Jokic.
Who won the big man matchup on Monday?
At the final buzzer sounded on Monday, Jokic left Wells Fargo Center with bragging right as Denver stole a close game against the Sixers (114-110). Jokic finished the game with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists on 50% shooting. Meanwhile, Embiid dominated in his own way by putting up 34 points, nine rebounds, and four assists on 11-20 shooting.
Embiid and Jokic's first matchup since 2019 ended with a thriller as both went back-and-forth down the stretch. Ultimately, the Nuggets successfully got stops as the Sixers couldn't seem to knock down their shots late in the game.
It didn't help that turnovers and fouls cost the Sixers late in the game and that the Nuggets' X-factor and rookie Bones Hyland stole the show after knocking down four three-pointers in the game.
A sight to behold
After the game, Jokic and Embiid were seen hugging and exchanging praise for one another. As basketball fans, it's nice to see how these two talented big men acknowledge each other's remarkable talents. It's not every day that we see two MVP candidates respect each other this much (ahem, see Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden's beef just two years ago).
Jokic and Embiid's wholesome and mutual love for each other's game only helps them bring each other up instead of tearing each other down like it is typically for player rivalries around the league.