Joel Embiid Draws Criticism for Choosing to Play for Team USA at Paris Olympics Basketball

The 30-year-old player has split basketball fans ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Callie (Carlos) Cadorniga - Author

Jul. 9 2024, Published 12:50 p.m. ET

Joel Embiid in 2024
Source: Getty Images

With the Paris Olympics just around the corner, the world's greatest athletes are gearing up to take home some gold in 2024. This includes some of the most respected basketball players participating in the event, including Joel Embiid. The current center for the Philadelphia 76ers has made a major impact throughout his career as an NBA star. With several championship titles under his belt, including being a seven-time NBA All-Star as of 2024, he's a contender to look out for in Paris.

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However, his citizenship has been a point of contention when it comes to the Olympic Games. Joel was born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, a country in Central Africa. Along with his country of origin, he's also eligible to compete in national teams for both France and the United States, having attained citizenship in both countries. As such, he's bounced between repping different countries. However, his choice to represent the US at the Olympics has left many curious.

Joel Embiid
Source: Getty Images
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Joel Embiid honors his family with his decision to play for Team USA at the Olympics.

Joel previously announced his intentions to play for Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics back in 2023. According to ESPN, he had been in talks with the French national team for some time but ultimately decided to take it in another direction.

Amidst the original announcement, Team USA executive director Grant Hill stated, "It's exciting for USA Basketball that Joel Embiid wants to represent the United States." He also said that he was "looking forward" to Joel's future career prospects in the NBA.

His decision to play for Team USA has drawn some criticism, with some basketball fans believing that he should have instead played for Cameroon instead of the United States. French sports enthusiasts also felt spurned by the NBA star when he chose the US over them, especially considering he'd been in contact with the French Olympic basketball team for some time up until the announcement.

On the decision, Joel himself previously admitted that the choice between three teams was "tough."

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However, he did have his own heartfelt explanation to offer fans and critics. During the announcement, Joel tweeted on X, "I'm really proud and excited about this decision. It was not easy. I am blessed to call Cameroon, France, and the USA home."

He continued, "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 with my fans because they've been incredible since the day I came here."

He included by stating, "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."

While each of the countries he's called home are important to him, his love for his family was at the forefront of his decision to play for Team USA.

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