The Another

    Victor Wembanyama to follow in Tony Parker’s footsteps at San Antonio Spurs



    San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt's joy after his team won first pick in the NBA draft in Chicago, May 16, 2023.

    Once upon a time, there was a part of Texas that was French. More than 300 years after René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle, who had established a colony on the Texas coast, a new Frenchman is set to make the American state his playground. By winning the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday, May 16, the San Antonio Spurs have won the right to select the first pick in the upcoming draft. And there is no doubt that Tony Parker’s old team will use this golden ticket to select a new Frenchman, Victor Wembanyama.

    “I might faint,” said the Texan franchise owner Peter Holt. “It’s going to be unbelievable. Our future was already bright, now it’s going to be through the moon.” Just a few minutes earlier, he had jumped for joy when he realized that his team had gotten the first pick and could hardly contain his excitement. Like his father (Peter Holt senior) 26 years earlier, on June 22 the executive will have first pick from among the young players not yet in the NBA, of who will join his team. And it seems highly unlikely that the Texan team will pass up the towering “Wemby” (who stands at 2.19 meters), who has been called “the most highly anticipated player to ever enter the NBA” by Adrian Wojnarowski, the league’s most influential journalist .

    “A team player, I’m going to do everything to win as many games as I can. I’m trying to win a [NBA champion] ring ASAP, so be ready,” said Wembanyama without hesitation when interviewed on ESPN in Paris, where the Metropolitans 92 player was waiting for the outcome of the lottery.

    An unusual player – his size makes him a center, but with the fluidity of a much smaller player – the 19-year-old French international has been catching the attention of the North American basketball league for years (he started playing pro basketball at the age of 15). And first place in the draft has been a certainty for a long time.

    Before 2023, the San Antonio Spurs had only won the draft lottery twice. Both times, the Texans went for a “big man.” In 1987, the Spurs picked center David Robinson and, 10 years later, another center, Tim Duncan. Nicknamed the Twin Towers, both have since been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Seven years after Duncan’s retirement, the Spurs are about to add a new tower to their franchise, in the hope that he will help them reach the top.

    Read more Victor Wembanyama: Can basketball players be too tall?

    Gregg Popovich’s incessant demands

    “When you think [about] San Antonio, you think of Gregg Popovich. It’s a franchise with a work culture, not necessarily with the most media exposure. It would be a positive way to enter the NBA, with Popovich and his staff around Victor,” said former player and coach Jacques Monclar, consultant for BeIN Sports, in The Team.

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