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Joel Embiid decides to play for USA—not France—in Paris Olympics


Joel Embiid 76ers NBA

FILE–Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers. Adam Glanzman/Getty Photographs/AFP

Joel Embiid will put on purple, white and blue in Paris subsequent summer time — not rouge, blanc and bleu.

The NBA’s reigning MVP and scoring champion has instructed USA Basketball that, after greater than a 12 months of deliberating, he has picked the Individuals over France as his crew for the Paris Olympics.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ star let USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill know his thoughts was made up after which made the choice public on Thursday. And one of many causes Embiid cited in what had him decide the U.S.: His son is American.

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“I’ve been right here for such a very long time,” Embiid mentioned in Fort Collins, Colorado, the place the 76ers are having coaching camp — and the place Embiid met with Hill this week. “For the previous few years, each resolution I’ve made has been primarily based on simply household. My household, my son, and having the possibility to symbolize a rustic just like the U.S., with my son being born right here … I like my house nation, however I actually wished to play within the Olympics.”

France had given Embiid an Oct. 10 deadline for deciding on his Olympic plans. Embiid mentioned he appreciated the curiosity the French confirmed in him.

“I used to be attempting to take my time as a lot as doable,” Embiid mentioned. “It was type of made onerous by the deadline. However I’m pleased with it.”

USA Basketball doesn’t plan to call its crew till the spring of 2024, but when wholesome, Embiid would appear sure to have one of many 12 spots on the squad that can 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 thrilling for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid desires to symbolize america,” Hill mentioned. “Joel and I’ve had a number of conversations about his targets and I’m trying ahead to persevering with that dialogue figuring out that a kind of targets is to symbolize USA Basketball subsequent summer time in Paris. As I’ve mentioned earlier than, I’m trying ahead to the method of constructing the 2024 USA Basketball Males’s Nationwide Workforce roster over the following a number of months.”

No participant has been formally named to the crew at this level.

“The stronger the crew, the higher,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who coached the Individuals on the 2019 World Cup after which to gold on the Tokyo Video games, mentioned Thursday when instructed of Embiid’s resolution. “Worldwide competitors is hard. … That’s nice for us.”

The U.S. will strive for a fifth consecutive gold medal at Paris subsequent summer time. Embiid joins an extended checklist of high NBA gamers who’re hoping or planning to play for the U.S. subsequent summer time, together with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker and plenty of extra.

“You need to play with nice gamers,” Embiid mentioned. “However I didn’t take into consideration that in any respect.”

Adebayo had a easy response when he heard the Embiid information: “We’re trying stacked,” he mentioned at Miami’s coaching camp in Boca Raton, Florida.

James was succinct when he heard the information at Los Angeles Lakers’ camp: “Nice. Large time,” he mentioned, grinning when instructed by reporters there.

Team USA's Anthony Edwards heads to the bench during a Fiba World Cup game

Workforce USA’s Anthony Edwards heads to the bench throughout a Fiba World Cup sport. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.internet

Embiid turned a U.S. citizen final 12 months and will have additionally chosen to play for France — and even Cameroon, his homeland, if it certified for the Paris Video games. Cameroon can be amongst 24 groups enjoying for the ultimate 4 spots within the 12-nation Olympic area subsequent summer time; the U.S., France, World Cup champion Germany, Serbia, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Sudan have already certified for Paris.

Embiid mentioned once more Thursday that it was tough to decide on between his three choices.

“I wouldn’t have made this resolution if I wasn’t prepared,” mentioned Embiid, who mentioned he now desires to deal with Philadelphia’s season and never regularly hear questions on his Olympic plans.

It’s a huge recruiting win for the Individuals. Embiid was a rarity, a global basketball free agent — since he had by no means been a part of a senior nationwide crew and holds a number of passports, which meant he had a number of choices.

France — the reigning Olympic silver medalists, after dropping to the U.S. within the closing on the Tokyo Video games performed in 2021 — had pitched Embiid on the prospects of becoming a member of a frontcourt that can probably embrace Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama subsequent summer time, and till Embiid revealed a 12 months in the past that he had obtained U.S. citizenship it was extensively anticipated that he would play for the host nation on the Paris Video games.

“I suppose we’ll see him in Paris,” Gobert mentioned at a information convention in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, after his Minnesota Timberwolves performed a preseason sport there towards the Dallas Mavericks. “I’m comfortable for him. So long as he does what makes him comfortable and he follows his coronary heart, that’s what issues. I feel it’s undoubtedly one thing that they wanted. They wanted a dominant large man. So, they’re undoubtedly going to have a great roster subsequent summer time.”

Embiid was born in Cameroon and has held French citizenship. He has spent primarily his total basketball life within the U.S.; he went to highschool in Florida, performed faculty basketball at Kansas and has been with the 76ers for everything of his NBA profession.

The six-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA choice has averaged 27.2 factors in his profession, successful his first scoring title by averaging a then-career-best 30.6 factors in 2021-22 and successful his second straight scoring crown by averaging 33.1 factors this previous season. He received the MVP vote by a large margin, getting 73 of the 100 first-place votes to say the crown over Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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