Victor Wembanyama was chosen on Thursday, as expected, in first position by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA draft, a historic first for a French player. The Chesnay giant succeeds legends David Robinson and Tim Duncan, both also chosen first overall by the Texas franchise in 1987 and 1997 respectively.
A new page in the history of French basketball, and perhaps of the NBA, was written when “Wemby”, his nickname, went up to the podium to shake hands with the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver. The 19-year-old international is considered the biggest potential in world basketball since LeBron James, drafted 20 years ago, almost to the day.
After the traditional handshake, the French prodigy wore a cap bearing the image of the silver spur which serves as the logo of the Texas franchise. A gesture that had already been made, 22 years earlier, by a certain Tony Parker, who left an immense mark in the history of Spurs with four rings of champions (2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) at the key.
— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2023
Victor Wembanyama joins the great Spurs family, a franchise which has built, around coach Gregg Popovich, a culture of winning and intelligent play, which has become a benchmark in the NBA and around the world. San Antonio will nevertheless need its new number one to straighten out its recent sporting trajectory, marked by four seasons without the playoffs.
Direction la Summer League
Dressed in an elegant dark green double-breasted suit, cinched in the back by a ribbon, the former Nanterre and Boulogne-Levallois player appeared very relaxed before the start of the ceremony. All smiles, he had, on his own initiative, signed autographs, in particular on a ball thrown by a fan from the stands, to the enthusiastic cries of clusters of fans.
Even before the official selection by San Antonio, spectators were already sporting a Spurs jersey hit with the number one, the one he wore at Boulogne-Levallois last season. Now officially entered the NBA on Thursday, Victor Wembanyama must fly to San Antonio on Friday, before an official presentation on Saturday.
— NBAextra (@NBAextra) June 23, 2023
He should then quickly put on the Spurs tunic for the first time, well before the start of the next NBA season at the end of October. He is, in fact, expected at the Summer Leagues, the summer leagues traditionally dedicated to young neophytes as well as veterans looking for a contract. “I’m sure I’m going to play the Summer League” in early July, he said on Wednesday, without specifying whether he would take part in Sacramento (July 3 and 5), Las Vegas (July 7 to 17 ), or both.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 23, 2023
One thing is certain, Wembanyama will “surely not play all the matches, because I had a long season before, and I have something after”, he added, while his French campaign did not end. is completed only on June 15. This “something” is the Basketball World Cup, which will take place in Indonesia, where France will play its group matches, in the Philippines and in Japan, from August 25 to September 10.
“It’s always my will” to participate, “I’m waiting to agree with my frankness”.
Fond of foreign players for more than twenty years, the Spurs do not traditionally stand in the way of those of their elements who wish to represent their country in international competition.