The President of the French Basketball Federation is claiming Joel Embiid gave him the runaround the last couple of years while they were recruiting him to play for France in the Olympics, via Joe Vardon at The Athletic (with ads):

Joel Embiid was interested in playing for France. To do so, Embiid needed a French passport.

(Jean-Pierre) Siutat made sure he got one.

And then things fell apart.

When the idea of Embiid playing for France was first introduced into the public domain, way back in 2018, he told the French newspaper L’Équipe that if he ever played in FIBA, his first choice would be for Cameroon, but he cited the myriad financial and governing issues that complicated playing for his home country.

“My native country (Cameroon), France and the United States are my current options,” Embiid said then. “I just want good management.”

To this day, Embiid insists he never told Team France anything much different than the quote he gave to the French newspaper six years ago, up until the moment in October when he chose Team USA over Les Bleus for the Paris Olympics.

Siutat and (GM Boris) Diaw are adamant that Embiid told them on multiple occasions during the 2021-22 NBA season that he wanted to play for France.

“Joel came to us and said that he wanted to play international basketball, he said he wanted to win, and he said he wanted to play for France and he wanted to win with France,” Diaw told The Athletic. “So we listened to him.”

Siutat said he, Diaw and Embiid met twice, first over drinks in Orlando, Fla., and then in March 2022 at a steak restaurant in Philadelphia. At both meetings, the two sides expressed their interest in a partnership of some kind. Embiid does not dispute this, though, through a spokesman, he said Siutat and Diaw asked him to play for them at the Olympics, whereas the two French officials say they didn’t seek him out — they were instead acting on his conveyed interest, and they said they were talking about Embiid joining the team well before the Olympics.

Lots of he-said/he-said back and forth here. No one knows what really happened, so with that being said I’m going to have to back my guy Embiid. He’s never ducked competition in his life. He always embraced the grind in every way. Rain, sleet, altitude, hail, you can guarantee Embiid will be there as long as he’s healthy. So I don’t care what a couple crepes say.

Embiid mentioned in October he wanted to play for Team USA because his son is American and he’s been in the US for awhile:

This Siutat guy feels like a scorned lover. I bet he had an in at the government, and got Embiid a passport as a favor and to put some pressure on him to play for France. Then it all blew up in his face and now he’s trying to save whatever credibility he has left after a terrible performance in the World Cup last summer. Now he sees his gold medal and job security hanging in the balance and he’s mad. Wave the white flag, Frenchy! You lose again!