Legendary San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich takes stock after grabbing the 19-year-old French phenomenon on Thursday in the Draft.
How do you feel about inheriting such a phenomenon?
Gregg Popovich : We are delighted to be able to bring Victor. He’s damn talented, he’s a very mature young man. Anyone would be delighted to have the first choice. I am very excited. You don’t want me jumping around or acting out, do you? I would do a somersault, but it would take three months…
How are you going to prepare him for the NBA?
Despite all the expectations, it is a question of not skipping the steps, and this at all levels. What interests us the most is to set up a framework and an environment where he feels comfortable, where he can be Victor. We’ll watch it and see what happens. I learned this from Manu (Ginobili, editor’s note). You can’t force players to be what you think they should be. He’s not LeBron (James), or Tim (Duncan), or Kobe (Bryant), or anyone else. He’s Victor, and that’s what we want him to be. So we will do what we have done in the past with all the players. We will be there to advise, suggest, answer questions, be available.
How do you like the way he seems to handle the craziness around him?
We don’t know each other yet. From what I can see, I don’t think he’ll need me to stand up to the pressure. He has great dispositions for this, both intellectual and emotional. He understands the enthusiasm around him, the attention that is brought to him. He manages it very well, just look at his arrival at the airport in New York, where he signed autographs smiling at everyone. He understands that there is a way to shoulder this responsibility.
Will he play in the Summer League in early July?
We are discussing it. He will participate, but I do not yet know in what form. We have to decide together, but he will be present at some point.
Will he play with the France team at the World Cup?
We haven’t made a decision on that yet.
Statements taken at a press conference