CAMDEN, N.J. — Though James Harden’s absence and the season ahead with new head coach Nick Nurse were primary subjects at Sixers media day, Joel Embiid also touched on a sizable basketball story far outside of the Philadelphia area.
Who will Embiid, the reigning NBA MVP, represent next summer in the Paris Olympics?
The 29-year-old big man addressed that topic Monday and indicated he’ll likely lock in a choice shortly.
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“I have three options,” Embiid said. “My goal is to play in the Olympics. I love all three options. Cameroon, I’m born there, I’m from there and I always want to represent my country. But the goal is also to play in the Olympics. If we had a chance or if we were qualified for the Olympics, that would be an easy decision, but that’s still up in the air — and I really do want to play in the Olympics.
“And then the USA, obviously they’ve been struggling the last couple of years, trying to get back on the top. And you’ve also got France, who’s up and coming. I’m just thankful that I’m able to be in that situation. It is a tough choice, but I’m probably going to make that decision in the next few days.”
Embiid came to the United States from Yaoundé, Cameroon at 16 years old. He’s been stationed in Philadelphia since the Sixers drafted him in 2014 and is raising a 3-year-old son named Arthur with his wife, Anne de Paula.
As Embiid alluded to, the United States did not have a smooth FIBA World Cup this year. The team finished fourth without stars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, losing the bronze-medal game to Canada in overtime. The USA beat France in the gold-medal contest of the Tokyo Olympics.
Although Cameroon’s Olympic hopes are still alive, the nation still has work to do. According to the Associated Press, Cameroon is one of 24 countries that will participate in qualifying tournaments scheduled for July 2-7 of 2024. The winner of each six-team tournament will reach the Olympics.
While the Sixers’ situation remains somewhat muddled by the Harden standoff, Embiid sounded set to deliver international clarity soon.