Victor Wembanyama wears a San Antonio Spurs jersey against the Portland Blazers during a 2023 Summer League game at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP
“I have no doubt,” basketball prodigy Victor Vembanyama said Monday as he looked forward to making his NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs in late October.
Dyed blonde with short hair, Wembanyama arrived from San Antonio on Monday for a press briefing for French media following an online preview of a documentary about him. Un1quewhich was broadcast on Canal+ and MyCanal on October 8.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said the 19-year-old Frenchman, who is generating huge expectations after being selected first overall in June’s NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, whose season begins Oct. 25 at home against Dallas. .
Emphasizing the importance of his close family, the approximately one-and-a-half-hour documentary looks back at his final year and, in particular, the madness that accompanied his first steps in the United States. “These are stages that are part of the life of a basketball player. When you have such high goals, it is normal to have so much attention, questions and annoying people. »
In his first season outside the NBA, Wembanyama is hoping to “qualify for the playoffs,” something the Spurs haven’t achieved since 2019. “The best thing for the future is not to know what awaits us. »
Name, for example? “It’s very difficult to win the ring. But I am patient, I know that at some point or another it will happen. Not winning in the early years was never a barrier to becoming a ‘hall of famer’ or winning five titles in a row,” he says, following the path taken by game legends Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
“I have no doubt,” he adds of his level for his first matches in a league that brings together the best players in the world. Wembanyama was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in June and, like four-time French NBA champion Tony Parker before him, will be managed by Gregg Popovich, who, at 74, signed a five-year lease to take over the Texans team. .
“I have already met with Popovich. We talk in private very often. He’s willing to mentor me, support me, give everything, it’s nice to have such a dedicated coach from the very beginning. »
He insisted on the difference between his years in France (Nanterre, Asvel, Boulogne-Levallois) and what he noticed after a few weeks with the NBA franchise: “I understand that in France we are behind compared to everything we could do, there is real untapped potential for participation. There are fifteen coaches here. As soon as one guy falls on the parquet floor covered in sweat, ten people run to wipe him down. If I’m going to shoot at 7 a.m., even if I don’t give any notice, there will be four coaches on call. »
Goal: Olympic gold.
After the madness experienced between losing the French Championship final with Metropolitans 92 against Monaco, the draft in June and two Summer League matches in July, Vembanyama “cut himself off from the world.”
“For the first time in my life, I felt mentally tired. When I took a short vacation, I had to continue with peace of mind. »
He could still follow France’s dismal exit in the first round of the FIBA World Cup at the end of August, which he decided not to participate in.
“The World Cup was very disappointing, as it was for everyone. But I can’t judge because I wasn’t there. »
“This may be the boost we need going into the Olympics” in Paris 2024, where the Blues, who won silver in Tokyo 2021, will be eagerly awaiting their young phenom.
“I will be at the Olympics and I have no other goal than gold,” said the player, who reignited debate about his extraordinary height by posting 2.21m compared to 2.24m on the NBA’s official website.
Source: L Orient Le Jour
I am a sports journalist with over 10 years of experience covering news, events and stories from around the world. I have written for several online news outlets and have also been published in print magazines. I am currently working as an author at the World Herald News, where I cover primarily sports-related stories.