Joel Embiid expressed his disappointment after losing out to Nikola Jokic in the MVP race, though the Philadelphia 76ers star insisted "if and when I'm holding that trophy, anything else won't matter" in pursuit of an NBA championship.
Denver Nuggets star Jokic was crowned the league's Most Valuable Player on Tuesday with 91 first-place votes and 971 total points, ahead of runner-up Embiid (586).
In response to the snub, Embiid posted 40 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 76ers past the Atlanta Hawks 118-102 as the top seeds levelled the Eastern Conference semi-final series at 1-1.
Embiid became the first 76ers player with 40 points and 10 rebounds in a playoff game since Hall of Famer Billy Cunningham in 1970, while his postseason career-high points haul saw him become the first Philadelphia player with 40-plus points in a playoff contest since Hall of Famer Allen Iverson in 2003.
Reacting to Jokic's MVP victory, Embiid – who missed game time during the regular season due to a knee injury – told reporters following Game 2: "There's only some things I can control. Obviously, we as a team we had a good year and I was a part of it.
"It's disappointing because as a player, you worked hard for moments like this, but then again, it's out of my control. There's nothing I can do about it. I just got to come out every year, and just be ready and do my job."
Embiid, who has been dealing with a small meniscus tear as the 76ers chase their first NBA title since 1983, added: "I'm focused on the playoffs, focused on winning the championship.
"I've been saying all season we got a good chance, so I'm not worried about those awards and stuff. If and when I'm holding that trophy, anything else won't matter."
Tobias Harris chipped in with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists for the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center, where he had 16 first-quarter points on eight-for-nine shooting.
"We're not really worried about that," Harris said in response to Embiid missing out on MVP honours. "Jokic had a great year. Congrats on MVP for him.
"Joel Embiid has had a great year, he's been the MVP for our team. Obviously, there was a period of time where he didn't play X amount of games. I think that played a factor into it, but we get to the Finals and that's the goal for our team. Go get the MVP there so that's just our mentality. We don't only focus on those things anymore."