SAN ANTONIO — Victor Wembanyama has had a long week.
After arriving in the United States on Monday, Wembanyama rode the subways in New York City for the first time and threw out the first pitch at a Yankees game during a jam-packed start to his week. But after hearing his name called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver during Thursday’s draft, things have picked up yet again.
Wembanyama arrived in San Antonio on Friday afternoon — after a two-hour delay leaving New York — to hundreds of fans waiting for him at the airport. When he did arrive, he was taken to a team dinner that night with Spurs staffers as well as team legends Tim Duncan, David Robinson and Manu Ginobili.
“Probably in a couple hours, I learned more about the NBA than my whole life before that,” Wembanyama said at a news conference at AT&T Center on Saturday afternoon. “It’s so comforting to see these people who are so important to the city of San Antonio and the franchise are such great people and generous. They genuinely wanted to share their experience. I feel like they’ve already started to take great care of me. It’s so important to be in a position where it’s so comfortable.”
Wembanyama and fellow French player Sidy Cissoko, who was taken No. 44 overall as the Spurs’ only other draft pick, were introduced to the San Antonio faithful at an event on the Riverwalk at the Arneson River Theater. Following the event, they were whisked away to the AT&T Center, where they took pictures in their new jerseys before being introduced by Spurs general manager Brian Wright.
Wright addressed Wembanyama at the podium before it was time for questions.
“I wanted to say to you directly, we’re excited to grow with you, support you, challenge you — especially coach [Gregg Popovich] — on your journey through life and basketball,” Wright said. “Your talent is obvious. But as we got to know you, the maturity, the approach, the character, it let us know how special of a young man you are.”
Wembanyama will get some time to relax after Saturday, but he still has things to get done around the city, including going house hunting.
“The last 72 hours have been really tiring,” Wembanyama said. “But I’m really enjoying the moment. Everybody is doing a perfect job around me. Everybody is doing their best. I have my family and my people around me who love me. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve been welcomed warmly. It’s really comfortable. I’m really happy to be in this position.”
Wembanyama and Cissoko, who is from Paris, first played against each other when the two were 10 years old. Cissoko joked that Wembanyama was already 6-foot-6 at that point. They also played against each other last season when Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 squad played a pair of exhibition games against the G League Ignite, with which Cissoko played last year.
Now, the two get to be teammates. The first time they’ll take the court together will be next week at Spurs summer league practice.
It’s unknown exactly what role Wembanyama will have this summer, but the NBA did announce the schedule for the Vegas summer league, and the Spurs open against No. 2 pick Brandon Miller and the Charlotte Hornets on July 7 before facing No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson and the Portland Trail Blazers on July 9.
Victor Wembanyama dines with Spurs legends, feels ‘comfortable’ in San Antonio