Friday, May 24, 2024

Joel Embiid receives Team USA jersey with different number

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The Sixers have a huge game on deck Wednesday as they’ll take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the first matchup of the East’s Play-In Tournament.

But first, Joel Embiid got to enjoy a cool moment and add another accolade to what will likely be a Hall-of-Fame career. Grant Hill, managing director of Team USA Basketball, presented Embiid with the jersey he’ll wear this summer at the Paris Olympics. The reigning MVP will also sport a new number: 11.

Embiid, a native of Cameroon, is also an American and French citizen. That led to a two-year courtship of the star big man by multiple nations. Ultimately, Hill was able to persuade Embiid to join Team USA, leaving folks associated with the French national team seemingly quite bitter.

When he first gained American citizenship, Embiid said he was motivated to do so because of his son Arthur being born here while also spending the last decade-plus here himself. It likely doesn’t hurt that Embiid will have a tremendous chance to win gold when looking at Team USA’s stacked roster.

You can look at it two ways if you’re a Sixers fan. The optimist sees this as Embiid is feeling so good after his meniscus surgery that he’s confident he’ll be able to play this summer. The pessimist would have concerns over him playing knowing he’s been unable to have a healthy season in his NBA career. (Also fair to maybe be a little bit of both!)

In either case, it will be cool to see Embiid out there. The Sixers haven’t had a player on Team USA since Allen Iverson in 2004. In fact, Iverson and Embiid will be the only players in the franchise’s storied history to play for Team USA.

And hey, with the Sixers’ Cap Space Plan set to commence, it might be a decent opportunity for Embiid to do a little recruiting.

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