NBA MVP-winning player Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers has pledged to represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Thursday morning, according to reports, Embiid notified Team USA executive director Grant Hill of his choice. Days earlier, the two had reportedly had a private meeting for over an hour in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the Sixers are having training camp.
Embiid revealed on Thursday that he also spoke to members of the French national team before settling on 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,” he said.
“It’s exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States,” Hill said Thursday in a statement. “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.”
Embiid, who was born in Cameroon and has dual citizenship with France and the United States, has been the focus of a heated recruitment campaign to determine which nation he will represent at the Olympics.
It was “tough” for him to decide which of the three nations to represent, he said on Thursday.
“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.”
According to insiders, Embiid ultimately decided to play for the United States because he wants to aid in the country’s ascent to the top of the international basketball standings following its failure to win a medal at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines this past summer.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, both former league MVPs, have both expressed interest in working with Team USA next summer after the Americans failed to medal in their second straight World Cup, the first time that has happened since 1970.
Embiid claimed that while playing among other “great players” was not a major consideration in his choice, he nonetheless respected the “huge sacrifice” NBA players make by representing Team USA at the end of a demanding season.
Embiid added that he was motivated by the prospect of winning a gold medal in front of his son Arthur, who is 3 years old and was born an American citizen in 2020.
The addition of 7-footer Embiid corrects the Americans’ major issues at the World Cup this year: size and defense.
The Americans dropped three of their final four games in Manila, surrendering 117 points per contest. Josh Hart functioning as the “big man” on the court., a 6-5 guard with the New York Knicks, was finally forced to play in a lineup with five guards and two wings.
Six-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive Team pick Embiid has a stellar resume.
As the 2024 Games’ host nation, France, the current Olympic silver medalist, tried to convince Embiid to join its team. Despite placing 18th at the World Cup this year, France will automatically qualify for the Olympics as the host country. Cameroon has not yet earned a spot in the Olympics.