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Joel Embiid is committed to playing for the United States at the 2024 Olympics in Paris. However, it's not a lock that he will actually play. He's working his way back from meniscus surgery right now in an effort to rejoin the 76ers ahead of this year's playoffs. We'll see how that goes. 

But if he's healthy, he will be with Team USA in Paris, and Jean-Pierre Siutat, president of the French men's national team Les Bleus, is clearly annoyed by this fact. 

In a recent article by Joe Vardon of The Athletic, the picture is painted – from the perspective of Siutat and Les Bleus general manager Boris Diaw, of course – that Embiid expressed a firm enough desire to play for France, where he does not have residency nor any direct heritage, in the 2024 Olympics that Siutat, at the behest of Embiid, began the "not easy" process of securing French citizenship for the Sixers' center. 

The naturalization process came to fruition in July of 2022, when Embiid was awarded French citizenship by way of, per Vardon, article 21.19 paragraph 6 of the Civil Code, which provides that nationality can be granted to "a foreigner […] whose naturalization is of exceptional interest" to the country. 

France thought it was done. 

Three months later, Embiid, who was actually born in Yaounde, Cameroon but is a U.S. citizen, announced his commitment to play for Team USA. Now Siutat, in effect, is framing Embiid's decision to flip on France and join what is potentially shaping up to be arguably the greatest collection of American basketball talent in history as a bandwagon, super-team move. 

"Team USA, with [Embiid], who can beat you? Come on, nobody," Siutat told Vardon. "This is an easy way for him to get an Olympic medal."

The center position has indeed been a weakness for the Americans in recent international competition, including at the 2023 World Cup where they failed to even medal after losses to Germany and Canada. Anthony Davis has said he intends to play for the U.S., and now with Embiid, this positional problem is, well, no longer a problem. 

France, on the other hand, could've put a lineup on the floor consisting of Embiid, Rudy Gobert, and Victor Wembanyama. Who knows how that might've worked, but one thing is for certain: Nobody would have been able to contend with that kind of collective size. It would've been very interesting. 

Had Embiid played for France at the 2022 European Championship, otherwise known as EuroBasket, this would be a different story. Once you've represented a country in these competitions, you cannot just flip to another. But Embiid missed EuroBasket after having surgery on his thumb following the 2022 playoffs, which, for the purposes of international status, left him as an effective free agent. 

Embiid actually finalized his U.S. citizenship during EuroBasket, and now here we are, with Embiid in the Olympic fold for the United States rather than France. To be fair, Embiid has far more of a connection to America than he does to France. He lives here. His family is here. He had kids here, works here, and, again, he's a U.S. citizen for reasons that extend far beyond basketball. 

In France, his citizenship was simply an arranged basketball marriage that seems to have ended in a quickie divorce. France isn't happy, and you can understand that. From a pure basketball standpoint, Embiid is joining what could be the most super super-team of all time, and that includes the '92 Dream Team. 

LeBron James. Stephen Curry. Kawhi Leonard. Kevin Durant. Anthony Davis. Jayson Tatum. Anthony Edwards. Devin Booker. Now add Embiid to this list. Come on, man. This is Durant joining up with the Warriors times 10. It's basically a guaranteed gold medal, just as Siutat suggests. 

Still, it's Embiid's decision to make. He has his reasons, and everyone involved with the U.S. and French teams has to respect that. 

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