Joel Embiid has proved his mettle in the most competitive basketball league in the world, earning six NBA All-Star appearances and taking home hardware as the 2023 NBA MVP. However, the Cameroonian native, who is fluent in English, French and Basaa (a Bantu dialect spoken in Cameroon), has yet to suit up at the international level. It appears that may be about to change with the 2024 Olympics approaching.
At Sixers media day on Monday, Embiid said his goal is to play in those Olympics, taking place in Paris. Joel has family in France and has previously obtained French nationality.
Joel Embiid said his goal is to play in the Olympics. Wouldn't commit to which country he would play for -- Cameroon, France or USA. Said he'd love to play for Cameroon, but he's not sure if they'll qualify. Said he'll probably make a decision in the coming days.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) October 2, 2023
Understandably, it seems like his home country of Cameroon would be Embiid’s first choice, all things being equal.
Embiid: "My goal is to play in the Olympics. I love all three options...if [Cameroon] were qualified for the Olympics, that would be an easy decision, but that's still up in the air"— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) October 2, 2023
Cameroon won the continental title back in August, earning the national team a spot in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs), which will take place in early July. The OQTs will determine the remaining four entries for the Olympic field from a field of 24 countries, listed below:
As you can see, finishing in the top field from that group will not be easy for Cameroon, with international stalwarts like Spain, Slovenia, Brazil, Italy and Greece present (to name a few).
The United States option would be fun for Sixers fans among us who are American and would cheer on the stars and stripes. However, the American team looks like it will field the “A” team at the Paris Olympics after the national team’s disappointing fourth place finish in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Embiid’s presence would be a ‘rich get richer’ situation; he probably isn’t needed to help the United States go from winning games by 30 points to 35 points.
France is arguably the most intriguing option. After earning silver in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, France was eliminated from the 32-team group stage in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, losing its first two games to Canada (by 30 points!) and Latvia. France has enough talent where Embiid joining could be a deciding factor in overcoming the World Cup disappointment. Plus, we need to see Joel, Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama all take the floor together, if only for the meme potential.
We’ll await word on what Embiid decides to do in the coming days.