Joel Embiid to represent Team USA at 2024 Paris Olympics

ByRamona Shelburne ESPN logo
Thursday, October 5, 2023

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, the NBA's reigning MVP, has committed to play for Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Embiid informed Team USA executive director Grant Hill of his decision Thursday morning, sources said, just days after the two quietly met for close to an hour in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the Sixers are holding training camp.

Embiid said Thursday that he also was in contact with representatives from the French national team but ultimately decided on Team USA after 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 holds French and American citizenship, has been at the center of an intense recruiting battle over which country he will represent at the Olympics. He said Thursday that it was "tough" for him to choose one of the three countries to represent.

"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."

Embiid ultimately chose to represent the United States, sources said, because he wants to help the U.S. return to the top of the international basketball world after it failed to medal at the FIBA World Cup in the Philippines this summer.

A litany of superstar players, including a pair of former league MVPs -- Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James -- have expressed interest in joining forces to help Team USA next summer after the Americans failed to medal in their second consecutive World Cup, the first time that has happened since 1970.

Although playing with other "great players" was not a key factor in his decision, Embiid said he admired the "huge sacrifice" NBA players make by representing Team USA after a long season.

"When you have guys committing like this, I think it's great, not just for them but also for the game of basketball and the Olympics," he said. "Basketball is such a huge sport in this world."

Embiid also reiterated that he was inspired by the opportunity to win a gold medal in front of his 3-year-old son, Arthur, who was born as an American citizen in 2020.

"I feel like for the past few years, since [Arthur] has been born, every decision has been made just based on family," he said. "My family, my son, and having the chance to represent a country like USA."

Adding 7-footer Embiid addresses the Americans' biggest weaknesses at this year's World Cup: size and defense.

The U.S. lost three of its final four games in Manila, allowing 117 points per game in the losses. Coach Steve Kerr eventually was forced to play an ultra-small lineup of five guards and wings, with 6-5 New York Knicks guard Josh Hart functioning as the "big man" on the court.

Embiid is a six-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive Team selection.

France, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, had hoped to persuade Embiid to play for its side as it hosts the 2024 Games. The French finished 18th at this year's World Cup but have an automatic berth for the Olympics as the host nation. Cameroon has yet to qualify for the Games.

ESPN's Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.

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