Saturday, July 13, 2024

Why is Joel Embiid on Team USA? Explaining 76ers star’s eligibility for U.S. men’s team roster in Paris Olympics | Sporting News

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In 2013, Joel Embiid wore red, white and blue to represent the Kansas Jayhawks. Since 2014, he’s worn the same colors to represent the Philadelphia 76ers.

In 2024, Embiid will now don red, white and blue to represent the United States at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 2024 Olympics mark the first time that Embiid will take part in a FIBA competition and his decision to do so for the United States is a notable one. Here is more on his choice to play for Team USA as it pursues a fifth-straight Olympic gold medal.

MORE: Ranking all 12 players on USA Olympics basketball roster

Why is Joel Embiid on Team USA?

Embiid chose to play for Team USA over opportunities to play for France and his native Cameroon.

In October, Embiid explained his decision in a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter).

I’m really proud and excited about this decision. It was not easy. I am blessed to call Cameroon, France, and the USA home. After talking to my family, I knew it had to be Team USA. I want to play with my brothers in the league. I want to play for my fans because they’ve been incredible since the day I came here. But most of all, I want to honor my son who was born in the US. I want my boy to know I played my first Olympics for him.

Embiid became a U.S. citizen in September 2022. 

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Embiid said of gaining American citizenship in 2022. “My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”

Boris Diaw, who is the general manager for the French national team, told The Athletic that Embiid previously came to them and said he wanted to play for France. Embiid’s decision to join the USA over France angered many, including former French center Frédéric Weis, who said he would take away the 76ers star’s French nationality and ban him from entering France.

A source from the Cameroon Basketball Federation told BBC Sport Africa that many Cameroonians were annoyed with Embiid’s decision.

A one-time MVP with career averages of 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, it’s no wonder both France and Cameroon were hoping to land Embiid.

MORE: Joel Embiid addresses Paul George addition, championship expectations

Where is Joel Embiid from?

Embiid was born in Yaounde, Cameroon on March 16, 1994. At 16, Embiid moved to the United States where he attended two Florida high schools, graduating from The Rock School in Gainesville, Fla. before committing to play collegiately at Kansas.

Embiid is now 30 years old and has spent nearly half of his life in the United States.

A spokesman for Embiid said that he did not ask for a French passport, but that French officials pursued it on their own.

“When the government asked us, ‘Would it be good to have this guy? Can he bring something for France? Can he bring something for the country? Would it be good for the country?’ Yeah, we said yes,” Diaw said about Embiid’s naturalization process. “That’s how he got it.”

USA Basketball schedule

USA Basketball Showcase — Pre-Olympic exhibitions

Date Opponent Location Time (ET) TV channel
July 10 Canada Las Vegas 10:30 p.m. FS1, Fubo
July 15 Australia Abu Dhabi 12 p.m. FS1, Fubo
July 17 Serbia Abu Dhabi 12 p.m. FS1, Fubo
July 20 South Sudan London 3 p.m. Fox, Fubo
July 22 Germany London 3 p.m. Fox, Fubo

USA Basketball Olympic schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET) TV channel
July 28 Serbia 11:15 a.m. NBC
July 31 South Sudan 3 p.m. NBC
Aug. 3 Puerto Rico 11:15 a.m. NBC

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