Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, two years before Paris hosts the Olympics, according to French media.
Embiid, who was born and raised in French-speaking Cameroon, began the process to become a naturalized player for France, national team general manager Boris Diaw said, according to L’Equipe.
Nations are allowed to roster one naturalized player for the Olympics. Embiid has never played for Cameroon’s national team.
A French team with the All-Star Embiid could spell trouble for the four-time reigning Olympic champion United States.
In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.
That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Frank Ntilikina and Gobert.
Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the previous four seasons. In that time, Embiid made three All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.
No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.
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