On Friday during NBA Summer League against the Charlotte Hornets, Victor Wembanyama made his San Antonio Spurs debut in front of a roughly 19,000-strong sold-out crowd at Thomas & Mack Center.
NBA Summer League Debut
They screamed when he stepped onto the court, finally catching a glimpse of the 19-year-old who has been the subject of greater buzz since LeBron James joined the league in 2003.
This week’s early ticket sales. Following Zion Williamson’s debut with New Orleans in 2019, it was only the second time in NBA Summer League history that there was a sellout before game day. It was also only the fifth sellout in history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA champion, Jerry West, whose image appears on the NBA emblem, and musician J. Cole were all present.
But he got off to a dull start.
Wembanyama was undoubtedly nervous when the game began. His first three shots, including a driving dunk, were all missed. He finished the first half with five points on 1-for-7 field goal shooting, including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, five rebounds, and three blocks. He played 27 minutes in the Spurs’ 76-68 victory and finished with nine points, eight rebounds, and five blocks.
However, Wembymania was in full force outside of the court.
Before the game, Wembanyama jersey-clad supporters from all over the world crowded about the arena.
A 27-year-old Spurs supporter named Dallin Biorn traveled 11–12 hours by car from Colorado to Las Vegas to see Wembanyama play. He claimed to have purchased three tickets for $45 as soon as they were available online, reselling one of them for $215 on Thursday to help pay for the trip.
“I sense that it’s the next coming off potentially the resurgence of our dynasty,” Biorn said of the Spurs, who won five titles before failing to make the playoffs the previous four years.
Michael Escobedo, 45, flew from Indiana to Las Vegas to see the top choice in the NBA Draft last month. Wembanyama thinks he has a chance to take over as the league’s new face if he stays healthy.
Escobedo admitted, “I didn’t even know if he was going to play or not, but I still got [tickets].”
Wembanyama, who stands 7 feet 4 inches tall and has an 8-foot wingspan, is regarded as a rare skill. He can shoot and dribble like a player who is a foot shorter than him. He can post up and rebound as well, making use of his remarkably distinctive frame.
An NBA insider claims that Wembanyama’s aura may be more legendary than James’ was twenty years ago. Wembanyama has after all developed somewhat of a myth because many people have only heard of him or seen online videos of him.
“I caught LeBron’s football game. Wemby, though, was in France. It’s 2023, and social media has undoubtedly increased our access to everything. But we are unaware of him. If you were to survey the crowd at this evening’s game and ask how many of you had seen him play a game, I think very few people would say they have.”
So, other than two games versus the G League’s Ignite, Friday may be seen as Wembanyama’s first actual NBA test.
The game didn’t start well, but at times it appeared to be simple for Wembanyama. He had a laughably simple victory in the first tip. He dazzled the audience in the first quarter with some intricate dribbling plays.