Victor Wembanyama finally took the NBA by storm when he made one of the league’s most anticipated debuts on Wednesday night and didn’t disappoint.
Wembanyama was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs as the safest first pick since LeBron James 20 years ago.
And on Wednesday night, he went to court while the entire United States — if not the world — watched.
“How can I deny this,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. “It’s pretty obvious. Victor has had a lot of attention for a very long time and that’s not going to change. Luckily for us he is a really mature, priority young man who knows what he wants. He’s already a professional.’
And that’s exactly what the Frenchman proved when he opened his NBA scoring account with a three-pointer – what else?
Victor Wembanyama finally took the NBA by storm when he made his highly anticipated debut
The 7-foot-4 phenom greets Mavericks star and NBA veteran Kyrie Irving (left)
The 19-year-old’s first basket in the NBA came with a three-pointer in the first quarter
The 19-year-old, 2.70 meter tall Frenchman was described as an “alien” by LeBron himself because of his good control, agility and accuracy when shooting from three-point range – qualities not normally associated with someone of his height.
Wembanyama’s presence has energized San Antonio’s fan base like never before in the franchise’s history.
The Spurs have won five NBA championships and had numerous stars, but no one has received this kind of attention.
San Antonio received more than 200 media inquiries from eight countries, exceeding the interest shown during the NBA Finals.
Wembanyama’s jerseys and T-shirts dominate the stands. During the Big Three era, fans wore jerseys of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, but Wembanyama is the clear darling of a city desperate for its sixth NBA title – even after failing to do so in the last four seasons made the playoffs.
Wembanyama’s presence forced the Spurs to sell standing-room-only tickets for the opening game, a move that came just months after the team struggled to sell tickets in last season’s 22-60 finish.
“Last year I had a hard time even giving away my tickets,” said Spurs fan Melvin Voight. “A 200 percent turnaround. Great demand.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft drew the undivided attention of fans and media who filled the Frost Bank Center’s lower bowl while simply practicing free throws before Wednesday night’s season opener.
The 19-year-old from France, who is called “The Extraterrestrial” by Nike and is almost 2.70 meters tall, amazes with his extraterrestrial game.
In the preseason, he used his 8-foot wingspan to block three-pointers and euro-step from the free-throw line to the rim for a two-step, off-the-dribble dunk.
Wembanyama was drafted by the Spurs in the safest first pick since LeBron James
The 19-year-old, 2.70 meter tall Frenchman was described by LeBron himself as an “alien”.
The French teenager warms up before his debut against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday
And it’s safe to say San Antonio struck gold when they took first overall in the NBA Draft Lottery earlier this year.
The teenager broke down in tears as he sat with his family as the election was announced at the Barclays Center.
After Wembanyama was selected first overall, he shared the reason for his emotions with ESPN’s Monica McNutt.
“It’s just about achieving something I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Wembanyama said. “When I heard that sentence from Adam Silver, I dreamed about it so much I cried, man.”
He later revealed that even though he knew he would likely be picked first, the draft was still the best night of his life.
That may be until tonight, when he played his first game of the NBA regular season and his NBA career.