Longtime NBA vet hints at 76ers star Joel Embiid blindsiding them

A longtime NBA veteran hinted at 76ers star Joel Embiid blindsiding them about his Olympic decision.

76ers, Joel Embiid
76ers, Joel Embiid / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers megastar Joel Embiid, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, raked in the headlines before his injury with his superlative play. But sandwiched between that was the talk surrounding his decision for the 2024 Summer Olympics, where he eventually came to the decision to suit up for Team USA.

With Embiid also being qualified to play for France and Cameroon, naturally, there were also those who lamented his decision to play for USA, especially with the reigning Olympic champs already expected to parade a star-studded lineup to avenge their meager FIBA World Cup showing.

Boris Diaw reveals 76ers star Joel Embiid truly wanted to play for France

Boris Diaw, a longtime NBA veteran and champion who now serves as the general manager of the French national basketball team, bared to The Athletic (subscription required) that Embiid told them during the 2021-22 season that he wanted to play for Les Bleus.

"Joel came to us and said that he wanted to play international basketball, he said he wanted to win, and he said he wanted to play for France and he wanted to win with France. So we listened to him."

Embiid did not have a FIBA license at the juncture, but he did manage to secure his French citizenship in the summer of 2022. He entertained the idea of playing for France way back in 2018, recognizing that he had three options waiting for him as regards international eligibility.

The frustration from the French brass is understandable, but at this juncture, they have little reason to lament. They have Rudy Gobert manning the center position anyway with Victor Wembanyama poised to become the face of their team. If anything, it’s more arguable that USA has a more pressing need for Embiid after getting exploited in the paint during the FIBA World Cup.

Knowing Diaw, he was most probably in good faith with his comment, and Joel Embiid should perhaps use the French angst as a testament to his dominance. Surely, they’ve come a long way from initially being cold to the idea of him repping France.

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