The 19-year-old French phenomenon was officially selected by the San Antonio Spurs last night during the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
A moment in history for Victor Wembanyama, a moment in history for French basketball. From Jean-Claude Lefebvre (Minneapolis Lakers) in 1960 to Ousmane Dieng (OKC) and Moussa Diabaté (LA Clippers) last year, many French people have seen their names called up to the NBA Draft, the main gateway for young players in the North American league. None of them was as expected as Victor Wembanyama. Above all, none of them had the honor of being selected in first place. This is the case of the 19-year-old prodigy. “With the first pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs, select Victor Wembanyama» : “Wemby” had some “dream», Adam Silver actually said these words around 2 a.m. French time. Accompanied by his agents, his family in the “green room”, the 2.21m giant, smiling but visibly moved, then joined the league’s big boss on the podium for a souvenir photo that will go down in history, San Antonio cap screwed on his head. Here we are.
Trained in Nanterre and briefly ped through Asvel, the native of Chesnay is coming out of an XXL season with Boulogne-Levallois. MVP (best player), best prospect, best defenderbest scorer, best rebounder, best blocker, All Star Game MVP : he left nothing to others. In addition, “hisMetropolitans finished second last regular season to the untouchable Monegasque armada, advancing to the final against Roca Team. There, however, there was no miracle for Vincent Collet’s men, but “Wemby“has more than fulfilled its part of the contract, not to mention the spotlight it has brought to the entire French championship. A machine destined to win, to shine, to amaze.
Moved to tears
Still, Wembanyama is ultimately a bit human too. Yes, he is a monster of ambition. Yes, he is “made for it». Yes, no one doubted that he would be selected by the club for the five NBA championship titles. The new student of Gregg Popovich was however moved to tears when answering questions fromESPN, a few moments after its selection. Accompanied by his little brother Oscar and his big sister Eve, he did not hold back his emotion. Despite the total lack of surprise, the successor to Tim Duncan and David Robinson, respectively number 1 in the Draft in 1997 and 1987 in San Antonio, Victor Wembanyama was overwhelmed by his feelings.
Remember that the Frenchman drafted the highest so far was Killian Hayes, taken seventh by the Detroit Pistons in 2020. Record broken. For comparison, Tony Parker was the 28th choice in 2001. Rudy Gobert, the 27th in 2013. In fact, we had only three Blues in the Top 10, including Joakim Noah, 9th in 2007. Charge to Victor Wembanyama to meet expectations. And it won’t be easy knowing that he is announced as a generational talent, the kind of player who can change the history of a franchise, or even the entire NBA. Excellence as the only option! Some predict that he will be the best player in the league within two or three years and Vincent Collet, his coach for the France team and for the Mets, imagines him to be at 20 points/10 rebounds in his first season.
I will continue to wear the colors of France loud and clear.
“It’s indescribable, explosion of emotion, I had a ball in my stomach for 5-10 minutes before he (Adam Silver) called me, says Wembanyama, on beIN SPORTS, hot. Frankly, this is the first big accomplishment of my life. It’s unbelievable… Tears? I know I’ve been seen but don’t worry, it’s natural (smile). I hadn’t felt it before but the closer we got to the hour, the more I understood that it was the reality. I know it’s not over, I still don’t fully realize that I’m an NBA player. It’s a blast!“, he swears, before entrusting his joy to join the Spurs. “So happy to fall into this franchise it’s the perfect environment“, he promises, he who will go to the Texas city this Friday. And looking for accommodation? “It’s already donehe smiles. “Beyond the childhood dream that I realize, the pride of being the first number 1 of the French Draft, it’s incredible. That’s also why I do it. It moves me phew… I will continue to carry the colors of France loud and clear, to bring a lot of things to France, titles but beyond. This is just the beginning“, he promises.
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