Siakam centered on only one thought: I need to go home. James had already booked his flight to Douala, but Pascal had applied for a new visa that was still being processed. If he flew to Cameroon, there was a strong chance he would not be able to return to the U.S. without the proper paperwork. “My brothers are saying, ‘You can’t come.’ My mother says it, too,” Pascal says. New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, who had lost his own father two years earlier, rushed to his player’s side. He made some phone calls, but it quickly became clear Siakam’s best option would be to make the heart-wrenching decision to miss his father’s funeral. If he went home to Cameroon, he risked losing his scholarship and his future as a potential pro prospect.
After the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics in London, Embiid was asked if he would play for France and he didn’t rule out the possibility of joining “Les Bleus”. “I think it’s an opportunity,” Embiid said after a question by French RMC Sport. “You never know. I might play for the French national team but I might also play for Cameroon. I have a lot of relatives in France.”
For Joel Embiid, all the money he agreed to in contract is not just about getting rich. The 76ers center has something else that’s always on his mind. It’s his native country of Cameroon, which can use his help. “Over there, there’s a lot of poverty,” Embiid said Tuesday, one day after signing a five-year, $148 million contract extension. “A lot of people don’t have a lot of stuff.”
The Cameroonians and his family are the main reasons Embiid didn’t walk away from basketball after his younger brother, Arthur, was killed in an accident on Oct. 14, 2014 back home. “I feel like I need to do a lot of stuff over there,” he said of using his money gained from the lucrative contract.
Joel Embiid was literally discovered walking down the street. Nearly a decade after shepherding Mbah a Moute to America, Joe Touomou, an international scout for the Pacers, had been tipped off by Embiid’s uncle, who told him of his nephew’s athleticism and rapid growth spurt-the teen was rapidly approaching 6-10. So Touomou gathered some extra-large workout gear and headed to Yaoundé to comb Embiid’s neighborhood in search of his next protégé, where the 6-2 former Georgetown Hoya would find a much taller boy who was quickly won over by a pair of size 16 shoes.
Touomou saw in person how tall the boy was and knew that elite volleyball aptitude meant quick feet and leaping ability. So he once again reached out to a formidable father. Thomas Embiid needed convincing that his son had a future in basketball, but Touomou had a new-and ultimately winning-selling point: Mbah a Moute’s success.