Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has announced his commitment to represent Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics. The reigning NBA MVP, who was born in Cameroon and holds American and French citizenship, said he made the decision to honor his son who was born in the US.
Embiid’s tough choice
Embiid, who averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists last season for the Sixers, said it was not an easy choice to decide which country he would play for at the Olympics. He had previously expressed interest in playing for Cameroon, his native country, or France, where he spent some of his childhood.
“I’m really proud and excited about this decision. It was not easy. I am blessed to call Cameroon, France, and the USA home,” Embiid said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday.
“After talking to my family, I knew it had to be Team USA. I want to play with my brothers in the league. I want to play for my fans because they’ve been incredible since the day I came here.
“But most of all, I want to honor my son who was born in the US. I want my boy to know I played my first Olympics for him.”
Team USA’s roster
Embiid reportedly joins NBA superstars LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, among others, who have expressed interest in playing for Team USA at next year’s Olympics. The final roster will be selected by Grant Hill, the men’s national team director of USA Basketball, who welcomed Embiid’s decision.
“It’s exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States,” Hill said 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.”
Team USA has won gold at the last four Olympics, but suffered a shock defeat to Germany in the semifinals of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Embiid’s addition could boost their chances of reclaiming their dominance on the international stage.
Embiid, who is 29 years old, is a six-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive team selection. He is widely regarded as one of the best centers in the league and one of the most dominant players in the game.
He led the Sixers to the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and was named the NBA MVP for the first time in his career. He also finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
Embiid has overcome several injuries and setbacks in his career, including missing his first two seasons due to a foot injury and losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 playoffs.
He has also faced criticism for his outspoken personality and his social media antics, but he has always maintained his confidence and passion for the game.
“I love this game more than anything,” he said after winning the MVP award. “I’m not here to just be average. I’m here to be great.”