Gregg Popovich was smiling at the press conference. Last night, the San Antonio Spurs, with the #1 pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, got their hands on Victor Wembanyama. A talent presented as « generational » and which raises enormous hopes.
After david robinson And Tim Duncan in the past, the Texan coach will have, probably for the last time in his career, the opportunity to take care of the development in the NBA of a #1 pick. A final invigorating challenge for Popovich, who should also sign a new three-year contract.
Facing the press, the 74-year-old coach seemed simply impatient to be able to work with the Frenchman. With a clear desire to build around a real phenomenon. Basket Session invites you to (re)discover the words of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
The opportunity to recover Victor Wembanyama
« Certainly enough has happened in this organization to make you wonder why we have enjoyed such serendipity, that’s for sure. And, of course, there’s no answer to this question. »
« So we’re delighted to have been able to sign Victor. It’s obvious that he’s a hell of a talent, a very mature young man. But as with every pick, whether it’s the #1 pick, the #27 or of #38, we have a responsibility to each of them to create an environment that allows them to achieve their best. »
The pressure on the French
« I don’t know what I’m going to say to him when I get to know him better. We don’t have a personal relationship yet. But from what I’ve seen, I don’t believe he will need a lot from me in terms of handling the pressure. His parents have already done a huge job. »
« We talk about the expectations around him. But as I often say, you shouldn’t skip the stages. You have to follow the path, A, B, C then D. With different levels each time. You have to adapt to the systems, to the game, to the rules which are a little different compared to FIBA.
He has to get used to it. Because of all the hype, he’s gonna have a target on his back. More than the systems, it will be important to set up a framework and an environment where he will be comfortable. It must be Victor. It’s not LeBron, Tim, Kobe or anyone else. He is Victor and we want him to be himself. »
Victor Wembanyama, a historic night under the sign of emotion
« So we are going to do what we have already done in the past, with all the players, we are going to observe, be present to advise him, give suggestions, answer his questions and be available during his integration into the team, at the city, to its new life.
We have to see what he is going to eat, who is going to prepare his meals, all the facets of his existence. But it’s not set in stone, there’s no one way to do it. People were asking with Tim Duncan, ‘What are his needs? What are you going to do ?’. And I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m going to put him on the pitch, see him play and see’.
Starting to manage everything is not a good way to start. »
“He has a good disposition. A good combination between his intelligence and his management of emotions. Both at the same time. He understands the hype, the attention he receives. New York airport, he was smiling and gave a few autographs.
He took advantage of the moment. After 15 or 20 years, he will probably enjoy it less (laughs). But currently, it has been accessible for everyone. And you can see he likes it. I think he understands how he has to manage his responsibilities. He doesn’t need a lot of advice. »
Gregg Popovich looking forward to this challenge
« I don’t compare players, so that’s not going to happen. Like I said, he’s Victor. And I want him to be himself. Then obviously anyone would be excited about it. idea of getting the #1 pick in the Draft, so I’m very excited. You don’t want me jumping in the air for you, do you? I’d do a somersault, but I three months. »
“The guys, who played for us last year and will continue, had a great summer. And I mean it with all my heart. A great summer. I did absolutely nothing. I just watched. All the players have individual qualities and understand how we want to play.
As they age, they develop. It’s great. We can’t wait to put them together with Victor. »
Victor Wembanyama, these challenges he will have to overcome in the NBA
« We are talking about what he should do in the next few weeks. He has never stopped playing, he was in the Playoffs in France, and it has just ended. But he will participate in the Summer League. how much, we don’t know yet.
Like I said, I only spoke with him on the phone a few times. So I need to know what he thinks about it. I also want to discuss with his entourage, those who have trained him all his life. And we will make decisions together. But he will be there. »
« Available for the World Cup with France? Oh, that’s a decision that hasn’t been made yet I think. »
The impact of elders
« Yes of course, I spoke with Tony (Parker). And with a lot of people, as you can imagine. Tony is a huge fan. »
« If Tim (Duncan) is going to work with him? Tim is often in the room, Manu (Ginobili) too. Former players, when they are present, also come. But on Victor’s development on a daily basis, Tim will not No. But I want to guarantee you that they will have discussions.
Victor has already shown interest in talking to her and spending time with Tim and David (Robinson). So it will happen. But we won’t see him making him work. »
« Let Victor be Victor? Of course, I think I’ve said it before. I’m going to watch it. And you’re right to draw the parallel with Manu. Oh my god he was boring (laughs). I’m saying it because it is right next door in the other room.
I learned so much from Manu about this. You can’t turn players into what you think they should be. You have to understand what they are and take advantage of them. Because no player is perfect. »
Victor Wembanyama, drafted by Spurs, fulfilled his destiny