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Universally projected hoops phenom Victor Wembanyama had a whole Tuesday.
First, he scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the fourth quarter of a 93-85 victory for his Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans over crosstown rival Paris Basketball.
He celebrated at center court after the win, which put the Mets into the second seed for the upcoming French Pro A League playoffs, by screaming and pumping his fists. Then he made a lap around his home arena, signing autographs and posing for photos with celebrities including French movie star Omar Sy and French soccer icon Mbappe.
Wembanyama finished off a regular season in which he averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks per game, all of which led the league. Before the game he received a trophy for being the league’s top shot-blocker, and he is expected to claim its MVP honor this week.
Wembanyama has been exalted by LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo
By Tuesday night, Wembanyama, with his parents on each side of him, broke into a smile before emotion came over his face as he wiped his eyes at the gravity of the moment.
The Spurs have missed the playoffs for four years running. Some of this can be attributed to purposeful “tanking”, ie poor play specifically aimed at increasing their odds at winning this year’s draft lottery.
Some aspects of the Spurs’ poor play, however, can be attributed to a lack of talent; for example, San Antonio sent zero players to the All-Star game this season. They also lack big-name, high-upside young players to immediately pair with Wembanyama.
Though he was clear throughout the process that he didn’t have a preferred destination, the Spurs are a popular team in France because national basketball legends Boris Diaw and Tony Parker thrived and won titles in San Antonio.
It was clear Wembanyama, his agents and his family were pleased with the outcome. “My heart’s beating [fast],” Wembanyama said after he learned of his destination. “I’ve got everyone I know, everyone I love around me. It’s a really special moment I’m going to remember the rest of my life.”