Spurs fans are waiting for the French giant (2.21m) as the messiah on the Alamo City side.
“Wemby! Wemby! Wemby!» At the statement of the name of San Antonio Spurs first draft pick Victor Wembanyama On Thursday, an explosion of joy radiated through the AT&T Center where their fans celebrated the moment as if it were NBA championship night. “What’s happening there is bigger than a finals match and I’ve done them all!“, gets carried away with a smile of a child Ricardo Fernandez, quarantine, captain in the Marines.
He proudly wears a Wembanyama jersey, in the colors of Boulogne-Levallois, his former club in the French championship. “I ordered it the day after the lottery (May 16, editor’s note) and I received it the day before yesterday, I was so stressed not to receive it in time“, he says, before apologizing: he must run to the store to buy the one that the French prodigy will wear with San Antonio. Because a long tail has already formed, now that the Spurs have the right to sell the official flocked tunics of N.1 …
Meanwhile, suddenly the volume goes very high just as the hero of the evening cannot suppress his tears of emotions at the microphone ofESPN. We shout, we applaud him, we carry him, we comfort him with immense fervor, he, the 19-year-old young man, whose shell finally breaks through on the last day of the rest of his life, when until now he seemed impervious to the madness surrounding it. Human after all Victor, who has not yet seen the one waiting for him in San Antonio.
Painted skull and “Wemby” hat
Jose, in his sixties, a member of the security at the edge of the floor, does not recall having attended “something like that“. People came as families, some of the babies being very young. The atmosphere is such that one of his colleagues goes to take pictures with the supporters. Since the opening of the doors, the party is in full swing in the AT&T Center filled to three-quarters of its 19,000 seats. Behind one of the two panels, a kop is particularly heard and also seen, waving a flag mixing the black and silver of the Spurs with the blue-white-red of France.
If a portrait of Wembanyama painted on the back of a fan’s head grabs attention, the ultimate look prize went to dapper Sovia Lauriano, 70, in her ‘Wemby’ getup of boots silver shoes with a homemade hat adorned with a basketball hoop on which hangs a picture of Victor.
All have their eyes riveted on their smartphone mini-screen filming the giant screen hanging from the ceiling where we retrace the glorious hours since 1999, the date of the first coronation which gave birth to a dynasty, that of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, under coach Gregg Popovich, with four more titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). This “draft watch partywas the initiative of the Spurs, aware since the lottery of May 16, which offered them the first choice, of the effervescence rising in the city.
Fesque and statue
Quickly swarmed outward signs of “Wembamania“, Evidenced by the fresco painted on the wall of the restaurant Rudy’s Seafood, where we proudly take our picture in front of the portrait of the player. Another, adorning the Southtown 101 bar, had an impromptu visit from … Popovich, who drove past Wednesday and posed with a smile with his author Colton Valentine.
A work has even more success, a giant statue cut out of wood, drawing Wembanyama arms spread apart with two balloons in his hands. “It is 2.5 meters by 2.5 meters. We created it because of the excitement it brings to our city», Explains one of its creators Robert Alvarado, 61 years old. “We started it about two weeks ago. It took us 13 days, from idea to drawing, cutting, sanding and painting“.
While looking at this Wembanyama, barely larger than the original (2.24 m, 243 cm wingspan), fans are already talking about all that the phenomenon will bring to their favorite team. “I expect him to do great things… Another title? Yes of course“says Jacob Barrios, 21, student.
Further afield, one store, Mission Crafts Chandlery, created an aromatic candle and car air fresheners with Wembanyama’s face in the body of a Saint. Everything has been sold we are told. To each his Messi(e)… Stephen Navarro, 21, student wants to send a message. “If there’s anything I can say to Victor, it’s that we can’t wait to have him, to see him embrace the city, our community. Come have fun, enjoy San Antonio, you’ll love it“.