Sources: Embiid to play for U.S. at ’24 Olympics

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, has committed to play for Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics, sources told ESPN on Thursday.

Embiid informed Team USA executive director Grant Hill of his decision on Thursday morning, sources said, just days after the two quietly met for close to an hour in Fort Collins, Colo., where the Sixers are holding training camp.

Embiid, who was born in Cameroon and holds both French and American citizenship, has been at the center of an intense recruiting battle over which country he will represent at the Olympics. Embiid told reporters Monday at media day that he was genuinely torn between the three options.

Embiid ultimately chose to represent the United States, sources said, because he wants to help the U.S. return to the top of the international basketball world after it failed to medal at the FIBA World Cup in Manila this summer.

A litany of superstar players, including a pair of former league MVPs — Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James — have expressed interest in joining forces to help Team USA next summer after the Americans failed to medal in their second consecutive World Cup, the first time that has happened since 1970.

As the reigning MVP, sources said Embiid was inspired by the enthusiasm of past MVPs and fellow superstars to compete for the U.S. in the Summer Games, and the opportunity to win a gold medal in front of his 3-year-old son, Arthur, who was born as an American citizen in 2020.

Adding the 7-foot Embiid addresses the Americans’ biggest weaknesses at this year’s World Cup: size and defense.

The U.S. lost three of its final four games in Manila, allowing 117 points a game in the losses. Head coach Steve Kerr eventually was forced to play an ultra small lineup of five guards and wings, with 6-foot-5 New York Knicks guard Josh Hart functioning as the “big man” on the court.

Embiid is a six-time All Star and three-time all-defensive team selection.

France, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, had hoped to convince Embiid to play for its side as it hosts the 2024 Games. The French finished 18th at this year’s World Cup, but have an automatic berth in the Olympics as the host nation. Cameroon has yet to qualify for the Olympics.

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