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Embiid Chooses to Represent Team USA Instead of France


Joel Embiid has chosen to represent the United States in Paris next summer, opting for the red, white, and blue over the French colors of rouge, blanc, and bleu. The NBA’s current MVP and top scorer has informed USA Basketball of his decision after more than a year of contemplation, confirming his commitment to the American team for the Paris Olympics.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ star let USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill know his mind was made up and then made the decision public on Thursday. And one of the reasons Embiid cited in what had him pick the U.S.: His son is American.

“I’ve been here for such a long time,” Embiid said in Fort Collins, Colo., where the 76ers are having training camp — and where Embiid met with Hill this week. “For the past few years, every decision I’ve made has been based on just family. 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.”

France had given Embiid an Oct. 10 deadline for deciding on his Olympic plans. Embiid said he appreciated the interest the French showed in him.

“I was trying to take my time as much as possible,” Embiid said. “It was kind of made hard by the deadline. But I’m happy with it.”

USA Basketball does not plan to name its team until the spring of 2024, but if healthy, Embiid would seem certain to have one of the 12 spots on the squad that will be coached by Golden State’s Steve Kerr with assistants Erik Spoelstra of Miami, Tyronn Lue of the Los Angeles Clippers and Mark Few of Gonzaga.

“It’s exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States,” Hill said. “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.”

No player has been officially named to the team at this point.

“The stronger the team, the better,” San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich, who coached the Americans at the 2019 World Cup and then to gold at the Tokyo Games, said Thursday when told of Embiid’s decision. “International competition is tough. … That’s great for us.”

Embiid Chooses to Represent Team USA Instead of France

The U.S. will try for a fifth consecutive gold medal at Paris next summer. Embiid joins a long list of top NBA players who are hoping or planning to play for the U.S. next summer, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker and many more.

“You want to play with great players,” Embiid said. “But I didn’t think about that at all.”

Adebayo had a simple reaction when he heard the Embiid news: “We’re looking stacked,” he said at Miami’s training camp in Boca Raton, Fla.

James was succinct when told at Los Angeles Lakers’ camp: “Great. Big time,” he said, grinning when told by reporters there.

Embiid became a U.S. citizen last year and could have also chosen to play for France — or even Cameroon, his homeland, if it qualified for the Paris Games. Cameroon will be among 24 teams playing for the final four spots in the 12-nation Olympic field next summer; the U.S., France, World Cup champion Germany, Serbia, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Sudan have already qualified for Paris.

Embiid reiterated on Thursday that making a choice among his three options was a challenging process.

“I wouldn’t have arrived at this decision if I wasn’t prepared,” stated Embiid. He expressed his desire to shift his focus towards Philadelphia’s ongoing season and avoid constantly fielding inquiries about his Olympic intentions.

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