In a decision that had basketball fans on edge for months, NBA superstar Joel Embiid has finally made up his mind about which national team he will represent at the 2024 Paris Olympics. The Philadelphia 76ers’ center, who is the reigning NBA Kia MVP and a two-time scoring champion, has opted to represent the United States over his other options of France and his native Cameroon.
Embiid’s decision was announced recently, and ESPN was the first to break the news. While USA Basketball has not officially named its roster for the Paris Olympics, it seems highly likely that Embiid will secure one of the coveted 12 spots on the team. The squad will be led by Golden State’s head coach, Steve Kerr, with a coaching staff that includes Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat, Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Mark Few of Gonzaga.
The United States aims to secure its fifth consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball at the Paris Olympics, and Joel Embiid’s commitment adds to the already impressive list of NBA stars planning to represent their country. This star-studded roster is expected to include players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, and many more.
Embiid’s decision to represent the United States holds particular significance because of his unique background. While he was born in Cameroon and held French citizenship, he became a U.S. citizen last year. This allowed him to choose between the United States, France, or even his homeland, Cameroon, if they qualified for the Paris Games. However, Cameroon is still vying for one of the final four spots in the 12-nation Olympic field, while the United States, France, and several other teams have already secured their places.
The decision-making process for Embiid was far from easy. He had to weigh the appeal of joining France’s frontcourt, which includes notable players like Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama, against the opportunity to represent the country where he has spent most of his basketball career. Ultimately, his decision was influenced by his family, as he expressed, “My family, my son, and having the chance to represent a country like the U.S., with my son being born here … I love my home country, but I really wanted to play in the Olympics.”
Embiid’s journey to representing the United States involved navigating complex eligibility rules, given his multiple citizenships. Last year, he went through the processes to make himself eligible for both the United States and France in international basketball. However, he could only choose one nation for the 2024 Paris Games, and he has chosen to play for the United States.
His decision is a significant recruiting win for the United States, securing a top-tier international talent for the national team. France had made a strong pitch for Embiid to represent them, given his ties to the country through citizenship and the previous Olympic silver medal performance. French President Emmanuel Macron even made a personal appeal to Embiid via a phone call, demonstrating the extent to which nations were vying for his commitment.
Joel Embiid’s decision is a testament to the allure of representing the United States and the deep connection he has developed with the country throughout his basketball journey. As the U.S. men’s basketball team prepares for the 2024 Paris Olympics, fans can look forward to seeing this elite NBA talent proudly wearing the red, white, and blue on the international stage.