December 4, 2023


The NBA’s reigning MVP and scoring champion has advised USA Basketball that he’ll play for the People after a yr of deliberating.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was a roadblock in Sport 5 because the 76ers gained the sting on this convention semifinal.

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 advised USA Basketball that, after greater than a yr of deliberating, he has picked the People over France as his group 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.

“I’ve been right here for such a very long time,” Embiid stated 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 based mostly on simply household. My household, my son, and having the possibility to signify 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 stated he appreciated the curiosity the French confirmed in him.

“I used to be attempting to take my time as a lot as attainable,” Embiid stated. “It was form of made laborious by the deadline. However I’m pleased with it.”

USA Basketball doesn’t plan to call its group till the spring of 2024, but when wholesome, Embiid would appear sure to have one of many 12 spots on the squad that will probably 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 signify america,” Hill stated. “Joel and I’ve had a number of conversations about his objectives and I’m wanting ahead to persevering with that dialogue understanding that a kind of objectives is to signify USA Basketball subsequent summer time in Paris. As I’ve stated earlier than, I’m wanting ahead to the method of constructing the 2024 USA Basketball Males’s Nationwide Staff roster over the subsequent a number of months.”

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

“The stronger the group, the higher,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who coached the People on the 2019 World Cup after which to gold on the Tokyo Video games, stated Thursday when advised 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 a protracted listing of prime 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 lots of extra.

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

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

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

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

Embiid stated 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,” stated Embiid, who stated he now desires to give attention to Philadelphia’s season and never regularly hear questions on his Olympic plans.

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

France — the reigning Olympic silver medalists, after shedding to the U.S. within the remaining on the Tokyo Video games performed in 2021 — had pitched Embiid on the prospects of becoming a member of a frontcourt that may seemingly embrace Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama subsequent summer time, and till Embiid revealed a yr 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 stated at a information convention in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, after his Minnesota Timberwolves performed a preseason sport there towards the Dallas Mavericks. “I’m glad for him. So long as he does what makes him glad and he follows his coronary heart, that’s what issues. I feel it’s undoubtedly one thing that they wanted. They wanted a dominant massive man. So, they’re undoubtedly going to have a very good roster subsequent summer time.”

Embiid was born in Cameroon and has held French citizenship. He has spent primarily his complete basketball life within the U.S.; he went to highschool in Florida, performed faculty basketball at Kansas and has been with the 76ers for the whole thing 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 assert the crown over Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo.