Reigning NBA MVP and Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has turned down France and Cameroon and opted to represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics. According to ESPN, sources said the 29-year-old notified Team USA executive director Grant Hill of his commitment on Thursday.
The two had also initially met to discuss Embiid representing Team USA at the Sixers’ training camp in Fort Collins, Colorado. On Thursday, the Cameroonian-born basketball star disclosed he had held discussions with officials from the French team, but he opted to commit to Team USA following his meeting with Hill.
“I just wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision, and it just took me one last meeting with all parties involved and went ahead,” Embiid said.
“It’s exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States,” said Hill in a statement on Thursday. “Joel and I have had several conversations about his goals and I’m looking forward to continuing that dialogue knowing that one of those goals is to represent USA Basketball next summer in Paris. As I’ve said before, I’m looking forward to the process of building the 2024 USA Basketball Men’s National Team roster over the next several months.”
Born in Yaounde, Cameroon, Embiid moved to the United States at the age of 16 to pursue a professional basketball career. He was ultimately granted French and American citizenship in 2022. Besides Team USA, the French national basketball team was also keen on having him represent their country at the Olympics. The 29-year-old said choosing which of the three countries to represent was “tough.”
“I love all three options, you know, with my home country, which I love a lot,” Embiid said. “But I really want to participate in the Olympics, that’s been my goal and my dream. And you add that with the fact that my son is American, and I’ve been here for such a long time. … I’m really thankful for the opportunity. France — the commitment they were willing to make — I really appreciate it. It was a tough decision.”
Embiid’s decision comes after Team USA surprisingly lost against Germany in the semifinals of this year’s FIBA Basketball World Cup. Sources said the Sixers star committed to Team USA because he wants to help the country reclaim its status as a basketball powerhouse, ESPN reported.
And though superstars including Stephen Curry and LeBron James have also shown interest in representing Team USA at the 2024 Olympics, Embiid said that did not significantly influence his decision. He also praised the commitment of NBA players who, regardless of the long season, still go ahead and play for Team USA.
“When you have guys committing like this, I think it’s great, not just for them but also for the game of basketball and the Olympics,” said Embiid. “Basketball is such a huge sport in this world.”
Embiid also spoke about how his son Arthur influenced his decision. The 3-year-old is an American citizen. “I feel like for the past few years, since [Arthur] has been born, every decision has been made just based on family,” he said. “My family, my son, and having the chance to represent a country like USA.”