For free real time breaking news alerts sent straight to your inbox sign up to our breaking news emails
Sign up to our free breaking news emails
Victor Wembanyama is set to make his NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and the world is watching.
“How can I deny that,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “It’s pretty obvious. Victor’s had a lot of attention pointed toward him for a very long time and that’s not going to change. Fortunately for us, he’s a really mature, prioritized young man that knows what he wants. He’s already a pro.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft drew the undivided attention of fans and media filling the lower bowl of the Frost Bank Center while simply practicing free throws before Wednesday night's season opener.
Dubbed “The Extraterrestrial” by Nike, the 19-year-old from France who stands nearly 7-foot-4, has been astounding with his otherworldly play. In preseason action, he blocked 3-point shots with his 8-foot wingspan and Euro-stepped from the free throw line to the rim for a dunk in two strides without a dribble.
Wembanyama's presence has energized San Antonio’s fanbase unlike any time in the franchise’s history.
The Spurs have won five NBA championships and had numerous stars, yet nobody has received this kind of attention.
San Antonio received more than 200 media credential requests from eight countries, rivaling the interest shown during the NBA Finals.
Wembanyama’s jerseys and T-shirts dominate the stands. Jerseys from Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were worn by fans during the Big Three Era, but Wembanyama is the clear darling of a city desperate for its sixth NBA title — even after failing to make the playoffs the last four seasons.
Wembanyama’s presence forced the Spurs to sell standing-room only tickets for the opener, a move that comes just months after the team struggled to sell tickets during its 22-60 finish last season.
“I had a hard time even giving my tickets away last year,” Spurs fan Melvin Voight said. “A 200 percent turnaround. Big demand.”
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba