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Paris Olympics: Fear Of Injury Lurks Around Joel Embiid As 76ers Accept Having No Control Over Team USA’s Decision

Published 05/12/2024, 8:08 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The ongoing NBA season is slowly but steadily approaching its conclusion. Fortunately, the fun for basketball enthusiasts will not stop there, as several top league players will soon be heading to Paris to compete in the upcoming 2024 Olympics. Having faced disappointment during the FIBA World Cup last year, the Paris Games will serve as an opportunity for Team USA to redeem themselves. Amongst the 12 players selected to be a part of this elite roster is Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid. Given his current situation, however, there is a level of uncertainty over whether he will allow himself to compete on the international stage.

Back in January of this year, the 7x NBA All-Star developed a left meniscus injury. After undergoing surgery, he was not seen again on the basketball court for 29 games. While Embiid returned in time for the playoffs, he had still not fully recovered from the ailment. To make matters worse, the player disclosed back in April that he has been diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a condition that has a severe effect on an individual’s vision, facial muscles, etc.

With two months to go until the Paris Olympics, questions arise over sufficient time of recovery. Furthermore, even if he recovers completely, would it be worth the risk to let the forward compete on the crucial stage, only for the ailments to possibly return later? Well, according to 76ers president Daryl Morey, if the player wishes to compete, he can’t stop him. 

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“It’s important to support the dreams of your best player,” said Morey during a post-game press conference. “First of all, it’s not even in our hands. Second off, we would always support Joel in something that important to him. I think it’s really cool that he thinks that’s one of the dreams he’s had since he became a citizen.”

Joel Embiid, born in the African country of Cameroon, moved to the US aged 16 to compete professionally. While he has been a part of the NBA since 2014, it was only in 2022 that the 76ers’ forward attained his US citizenship. Therefore, the upcoming tournament will mean Embiid’s first even chance at representing the US and he would be doing so alongside the star-studded roster incurring Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and more. If participating in the Olympics would be enough to add a new chapter in his legacy, imagine what it would be like to add an Olympic Gold Medal to his resume! Therefore, the opportunity is just too ripe to let go of.

On another view, Daryl Morey realizes that a possible relapse would affect not only Team USA but also the 76ers during the following season. During Embiid’s 29-game absence, the franchise could only secure a 11-18 win record to their name. However, he also knows that the player ultimately makes the final decision.

Joel Embiid believes that playing for ‘Team USA’ is a way to honour his son

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The question about Joel Embiid playing for Team USA while still in recovery was not the first one that people were initially asking. Instead, the doubt that they wanted an answer to was: Why Team USA? After all, the player could have represented Cameroon. He could have played for France, since he was granted a French citizenship back in 2022. In fact, according to a 2021 letter that he had sent to French President Emmanuel Macron, Embiid had allegedly promised to represent the European country during the Olympics. In the end, however, the 76ers star chose to represent the place which means a lot to him personally.

“My son is American, and I’ve been here for such a long time, said Embiid in a statement. I just felt like, for the past few years, every decision I’ve made is just based on family. In a post on X, the player would further reveal that playing with Team USA would allow him to play with his brothers in the league, his fans, and would allow his son to know that I played my first Olympics for him”.

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Would you like to see Joel Embiid compete in the Olympics? Or would you want him not to take any unnecessary risks? Let us know in the comments down below.

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Written by:

Ashmit Kumar

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Ashmit is an NBA Content Analyst at EssentiallySports. Having started as a writer, he specializes in writing captivating stories that include the elements of in-depth coverage of teams, players and more. Due to his knowledge of the technicalities of the sport, Ashmit writes perspective pieces that provide well-researched analysis.
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Edited by:

Shivatmika Manvi