Joel Embiid, the reigning NBA MVP, has decided to represent the USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics, leaving his native Cameroon disappointed. The Cameroon Basketball Federation (Fecabasket) revealed that many expected Embiid to choose Cameroon, and the country’s reaction is legitimate but annoyed.
A Missed Opportunity
Liz Mills, the first woman to coach a men’s International Basketball Federation (Fiba) team, expressed her frustration over Embiid’s decision. She believes it’s a missed opportunity for Africa as Embiid could have made a significant impact by representing his home country.
Embiid, born in Yaounde, was courted by Cameroon and France but ultimately chose the USA. His father, Thomas Embiid, played for Cameroon’s handball team, and his family has a rich sports background. Despite not coming from a wealthy family, Embiid’s talent shone through, thanks to his family’s support.
Before his father’s passing in 2017, Charles told a heartwarming lie to Embiid. He informed his father that he had signed with a Formula 1 team for the 2018 season, which became a reality later. This decision was influenced by family ties and his desire to honor his son, born in the US.
Embiid’s choice was primarily driven by his desire to play in the Olympics. While he wanted to represent Cameroon, he also wanted to compete at the highest level. The USA’s pursuit of a fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Paris influenced his decision.
The Impact on Cameroon’s Basketball
Cameroon’s basketball fans and sports enthusiasts are disappointed with Embiid’s decision. They believed that his presence would strengthen the national team, inspiring other Cameroonian talents like Pascal Siakam and Christian Koloko.
Cameroonians are frustrated that despite being discovered at 16, there hasn’t been a basketball camp led by Embiid to nurture young talent. Many expected him to take on a leadership role in Cameroonian basketball due to his sports-oriented family background.
Embiid’s decision has sparked controversy and reactions, raising questions about the growth of basketball in Africa and the impact of athletes’ choices on their home countries.