Joel Embiid will play for the US in the 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

After a physically hampered NBA regular season and gruelling Playoff exit against the New York Knicks last month, the Philadelphia 76ers star center said he is recovering well from his injuries and ready to take on the world in Paris 2024 with Team USA.

“I’m doing great. Just getting ready for the Olympics,” Embiid told ABC while attending the NBA Finals on Friday. The charismatic big man, who was born in Cameroon and also is a French national, has suffered a myriad of issues throughout his career after being selected third overall in the 2014 Draft by Philly. After missing his first two professional basketball seasons, his conditioning and endurance have often been cause for concern, despite a stellar campaign in 2022-2023, when he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player.

He has never played internationally for Cameroon, France or the US, much less in the Olympics. Despite being invited by his country of birth to play in the 2017 Afrobasket tournament, he declined to do so and weighed his options until last October, when he finally decided to represent the US, citing family reasons. "For the past few years, every decision I've made has been based on just family," Embiid explained then. "My family, my son, and having the chance to represent a country like the US, with my son being born here. ... I love my home country, but I really wanted to play in the Olympics."

After enduring meniscus surgery on his left knee in February and a two-month recovery period, the big man returned to the court with the Sixers but felt the wear-and-tear in the postseason, despite dominating New York to the tune of 33 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game in the round 1 loss. “It’s going to be big for me because I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a kid,” Embiid said on Friday, regarding his Olympic bid.

Joel Embiid will play for the US in the 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES
Joel Embiid will play for the US in the 2024 Olympics. GETTY IMAGES

Cameroon has still to qualify for the Summer Games, while France, who took silver at Tokyo 2021, is set to showcase its own freak athlete in superstar Victor Wembanyama, the prized NBA Rookie of the Year from the San Antonio Spurs. The host country, who granted Embiid nationalization in 2022 and was hoping for his eventual enrolment, also boasts a strong inside defender in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert.

Back on 2 June, Embiid, quite the Real Madrid supporter in football, attended the Champions League final match between the Spanish club and Borussia Dortmund and provided a brief, yet optimistic update on his status during CBS’s pregame telecast. “I feel great. I feel much better, you know, with the knee and the face. Much better,” he said.

His most recent comments targeting Paris 2024 are more than welcome news for Golden State Warriors and Team USA coach Steve Kerr, as he will be one of three centers on the roster, next to Anthony Davis, from the Los Angeles Lakers, and Bam Adebayo, from the Miami Heat. He should also represent the team’s best low-post threat in the halfcourt offense, as the 30-year-old is also a six-time All-Star and three-time All-Defensive Team selection.

With another star-studded group featuring the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Davis, Adebayo, and Devin Booker, the US hopes to seal its fifth consecutive Olympic gold come August. The Americans were handed a reality check in the 2023 World Cup, getting knocked out by eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals and also lost to Canada in the bronze medal game, marking the second time the country who invented the sport has failed to earn medal in the international tournament.

Guard Tyrese Haliburton, from the Indiana Pacers, and forward Kawhi Leonard, from the Los Angeles Clippers, are other injury concerns for Kerr. Training camp for the national team is scheduled for 5 July. The Olympic debut is set for July 28 against Serbia in Group C.