Joel Embiid will wear red, white and blue in Paris next summer — not rouge, blanc and bleu.
The NBA’s reigning MVP and scoring champion has told USA Basketball that, after more than a year of deliberating, he has picked the Americans over France as his team for the Paris Olympics.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ star let USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill know his mind was made up and then made the decision public on Thursday. And one of the reasons Embiid cited in what had him pick the U.S.: His son is American.
“I’ve been here for such a long time,” Embiid said in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the 76ers are having training camp — and where Embiid met with Hill this week.
“For the past few years, every decision I’ve made has been based on just family. My family, my son, and having the chance to represent a country like the U.S., with my son being born here … I love my home country, but I really wanted to play in the Olympics.”
France had given Embiid an Oct. 10 deadline for deciding on his Olympic plans. Embiid said he appreciated the interest the French showed in him.
“I was trying to take my time as much as possible,” Embiid said. “It was kind of made hard by the deadline. But I’m happy with it.”
USA Basketball does not plan to name its team until the spring of 2024, but if healthy, Embiid would seem certain to have one of the 12 spots on the squad that will 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 exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States,” Hill said.
“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.”