The NBA broadcasts Victor Wembanyama’s matches in France: A new stage in the « Wemby-mania »

On Saturday afternoon, the NBA’s Twitter account experienced unusual activity. However, it was early in the United States and the Americans were barely leaving the table for the most in a hurry among them. But long before the NBA’s matchdays began, the big leagues offered those who wanted it the opportunity to see one of the most anticipated prospects in history: Victor Wembanyama. The Metropolitans were performing in Bourg-en-Bresse and for the occasion, the NBA took a new step in its « Wemby-mania ».

Yes, Americans have already given up on learning to write and pronounce Victor Wem-ba-nya-ma. Instead, they chose to give him this nickname of ‘Wemby’. As they give « Giannis » all the time to evoke Antetokounmpo. It is therefore « Wemby » that the NBA has served all the sauces early Saturday afternoon in the United States A few weeks after his double show in Las Vegas, the interior (or exterior for that matter, we don’t really know) tricolor had shown too much for America to happy with that.


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Bourg-en-Bresse – Boulogne-Levallois visible in the United States

Unique in its history, the NBA has decided, via its League Pass, to broadcast all Metropolitans matches in Betclic Elite this season thanks to an agreement with the National Basketball League (LNB). Before the Pacers-Nets or Hawks-Bucks on Saturday evening, a strange match therefore slipped into the program: Bourg-en-Bresse – Boulogne-Levallois. And if you thought that the NBA was going to be satisfied with the traditional means of broadcasting the LNB, it was a big mistake. A field cameraman was tasked with following the Wembanyama unicorn from start to finish. Really, from start to finish.

His descent from the bus, his warm-up and obviously his brilliant actions, everything happened and it was no less than 19 tweets that put him in the spotlight in three hours. Accustomed to transforming the slightest action of a game without much stake in the regular season into an exceptional event, the NBA did not go into detail to cover Wembanyama’s performance. With 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks in the success of his team (91-95), the 18-year-old kid honored this media hype and showed all his qualities, with the exception of that of the long shot ( 0/3). And his future league celebrated him as if he had shone in the Playoffs.

More than LeBron James and Zion Williamson

One wonders why the NBA does so much with him. Had a future rookie ever been entitled to such a follow-up? LeBron James in the early 2000s? The kid from Akron had been given the title of « Chosen One » (the chosen one) and made the cover of Slam Magazine. Some of his high school matches had been shown on one of ESPN’s channels. Zion Williamson, much later, had made Duke talk a lot. The two bulldozers are the only two that can compete with Victor Wembanyama on this level. With the difference that « Wemby » is French, so far from the eyes of Americans. And far from the heart? Not really.

As gifted as he is, the Mets winger plays in the French championship, a league little recognized across the Atlantic. Luka Doncic, even earlier and already brilliant in the Euroleague, had seen the United States doubt him. Defiance may come one day for Wembanyama but for the moment, the tone is only dithyrambic. On the night page of its video service, the NBA placed Wembanyama’s best-of on Sunday morning in third position. A sign that obviously does not deceive.

In other countries, the hype surrounding Victor Wembanyama could have been seen as harmful to the player’s short, medium and long-term future. The United States is different. But this visual force-feeding obviously has a purpose. The more Americans hear about the probable future number one in the 2023 draft, the more the « Wembanyama product » will be bankable. And the NBA is a business where the players are the best selling points.


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