Frédéric Weis: ‘I hate’ Joel Embiid for spurning France to play for Team USA in Olympics

Frédéric Weis: ‘I hate’ Joel Embiid for spurning France to play for Team USA in Olympics

By Oghale Apr22,2024

Frédéric Weis’ adverse association with Team USA Basketball took another dive Sunday when the former French national team player said he wants Joel Embiid to be banned from France for choosing to play from the U.S. rather than France in the upcoming Olympics, which will be hosted in Paris.

Weis — who has been immortalized for being on the wrong side of Vince Carter’s “dunk of death” in the 2000 Olympics — said on his radio show at the French station RMC that he has “hate” for Embiid for spurning the French team and that he considers the Philadelphia 76ers center to be “a dirty guy.”

“I consider this boy a great player as much as he is a dirty guy. I hate him for the things that he did,” Weis said. “I think he doesn’t have any respect for France and also for all the people who are asking for a French passport and don’t get it. And under the pretext that he is a great athlete, he got it. I find it scandalous, I find it embarrassing. I don’t care about his excuses, cause they are his words, and his words mean nothing.”

Embiid, who was born and raised in Cameroon before moving to the U.S. in high school, had expressed interest in playing for France as far back as 2018, when he told French newspaper L’Équipe his first choice for international play at the time was Cameroon, but France and the U.S. were options. Embiid has family in the country, but he has never lived in France.

The 2022-23 NBA MVP has never played on the international stage and has insisted that he never told Team France anything different from that newspaper quote. But Boris Diaw, the general manager of the French men’s team, told The Athletic in 2023 that Joel told him 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 said. “So we listened to him.”

A spokesman for Embiid said he never asked for citizenship, but was granted a passport in 2022 anyway. Reports of a letter Embiid sent to French President Emmanuel Macron have surfaced, in which Embiid is alleged to have said, “I wish to take steps to obtain French naturalization and thus be able to be selected with the Blues. I therefore do not wish to play for any other national team.”

For Embiid’s perceived betrayal, Weis jokingly suggested Embiid should be banned from entering France.

“I would take away from him the French nationality and I would ban him from entering France. You will not play in the Olympics,” Weis said. “You will come to the airport with Team USA and we will say, ‘You don’t have the right to enter the territory, go to your home. You are Cameronian, you are American, you are not French, go away.’”

Weis, who won an Olympic silver medal in 2000 and was a first-round pick of the New York Knicks in 1999, accused Embiid of taking a shortcut to winning a gold medal.

Embiid was a headlining name on Team USA’s roster announcement on April 17, and he’ll join a list of legendary big men who played for the U.S. as naturalized citizens, including Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Tim Duncan. The reigning MVP has said he wants to represent Team USA to win gold in honor of his son’s home country.

While Weis’ Sunday comments suggested harbored bitterness against the national team that stained his reputation, the now 46-year-old seven-footer told ESPN in 2015 that he doesn’t have any regrets about the infamous posterization from that 2000 dunk.

“Sadly for me, I was on the video, too,” Weis said at the time. “I learned people can fly.”

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(Photo: Elsa / Getty Images)

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