Joel Embiid picks USA for Olympics over France, Cameroon
NBA MVP Joel Embiid hopes to play for the U.S. at the 2024 Paris Olympics rather than his other options of France and his native Cameroon.
Embiid told USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill on Thursday that he picked the U.S., according to reports.
“My son is American,” Embiid said Thursday, three days after he said he planned to make his decision “in the next few days.” “I’ve been here for such a long time. I feel like for the past few years every decision has been mainly based on family. ... Family, that’s really what it came down to.”
So ended a months-long decision-making process. French president Emmanuel Macron even appealed to Embiid in a phone call, according to the Wall Street Journal. France’s basketball federation reportedly set a deadline of next Tuesday to decide, even though the Games do not open until July 26.
“It [the deadline] wasn’t much of a factor, but it was put out there,” Embiid said. “I wouldn’t have made this decision if I wasn’t ready. ... I kind of wanted to get it over with. I’ve been asked these questions since last year.”
Embiid is a Cameroon native but has never played in a major international tournament for that country, which made it simpler to represent a national team other than that of his birth nation.
If Embiid had played for Cameroon, he may have had to go through a lengthy process involving the international basketball federation (FIBA) to switch countries.
Last year, Embiid went through processes to become eligible to represent the U.S. and France in international basketball.
But he could only choose one nation in the lead up for the 2024 Paris Games.
Embiid, like many NBA superstars, did not take part in this past summer’s World Cup and instead took more time to decide.
Ultimately, he chose the U.S., bolstering a nation that has a relative lack of star centers compared to other positions.
Anthony Davis is the lone American to make an All-NBA first, second or third team at center in the last six seasons, but he last played at a major international tournament in 2014.
Asked on Monday of his 2024 Olympic interest, Davis said, “I have no idea yet.”
The U.S. is not expected to name its 12-man Olympic roster before late next spring.
At the Tokyo Games, France handed the U.S. men their first defeat in Olympic play since 2004. That was in the group stage. The U.S. later beat France 87-82 in the final, its closest gold-medal game at an Olympics since it controversially lost to the Soviet Union in 1972.
At this summer’s World Cup, the U.S. finished fourth — without any All-NBA players — and France was 18th.
France already boasts 7-footers Rudy Gobert — a three-time NBA All-Star — and Victor Wembanyama, this year’s No. 1 draft pick who skipped the World Cup.
Cameroon’s men’s basketball team has never played in an Olympics or World Cup, but did qualify for one of four last-chance global qualifying tournaments next July.