Wemby greeted by cheers, chants in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO — The chants from lots of of followers, a few of whom waited exterior for hours in practically 100-degree warmth, began on the very second Victor Wembanyama stepped out of the non-public aircraft that carried him to his new NBA residence.




And the NBA’s latest No. 1 draft choose — a star with out having even performed a recreation within the league but — reveled in his first San Antonio second, waving on the followers and letting them understand how a lot he was having fun with all of it.

Wembanyama arrived right here Friday afternoon. He was just a few hours delayed; Spurs followers had waited a very long time for one thing like this, so slightly extra ready did nothing to dampen the welcome they gave the generational expertise from France who is predicted to hold the franchise again to prominence as rapidly as doable.

“That is love. That is household,” mentioned Spurs fan Gabriela Hernandez of San Antonio, who braved the solar and excessive warmth simply to get a glimpse of the arrival. “That is what household does.”

Wembanyama will maintain his introductory information convention in San Antonio on Saturday. He was drafted by the Spurs on Thursday night time in New York and arrived in San Antonio shortly earlier than 4 p.m. CT on Friday.

One fan carried an indication asking Wembanyama to marry her daughter. One other man was dressed like an alien; that was the phrase LeBron James used final fall to explain the 7-foot-5 teen who simply took his workforce to the French league finals. There have been dozens of individuals in Wembanyama jerseys already, some from France, some the Spurs model.

His aircraft obtained a water-cannon salute from fireplace officers because it taxied to a cease, and even the law enforcement officials on bikes assigned to escort Wembanyama’s car out of the non-public airport obtained caught up within the pleasure of the second. Wembanyama stopped and shook every of their palms as he made his option to the van, even posing for photos.

“I feel it simply exhibits the tradition of San Antonio and the folks right here,” mentioned Spurs ahead Jeremy Sochanwho was on the draft Thursday night time and flew again Friday a few half-hour earlier than Wembanyama arrived. “Issues are very thrilling. He is a really thrilling prospect. It is going to be lots of enjoyable. … It exhibits how a lot love we wish to present to him and that it is a household right here and that he has nothing to emphasize about. It is going to be good.”

They’re hoping for excellent, really.

The Spurs struck gold — as in, trophy gold — with their previous No. 1 picks, a pair of facilities named David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Each grew to become San Antonio royalty, each ended up within the Naismith Memorial Corridor of Fame, and now Wembanyama will strive along with his dimension 20½ foot to observe their huge footsteps. The Spurs have not received a title since 2014, have not received a playoff sequence since 2017 and have not made the playoffs since 2019.

However with Wembanyama, they’re immediately the speak of the city once more — perhaps the speak of the league, too.

“I can not communicate for town. I understand how excited they’re and the way excited they have been after we ended up with the primary choose,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mentioned Thursday night time, shortly after the choice grew to become official. “However the metropolis has all the time had a love affair with the Spurs, so it does not change regardless of who we choose or what yr it’s.

“They’ve all the time been loyal, devoted followers who benefit from the Spurs and the gamers in return have all the time understood their accountability to town. We did not do something completely different in preparation. We’re who we’re, and town has all the time supported us.”

It was 98 levels exterior when the aircraft landed. Add the humidity, and it felt like 108. The UV index was listed at 11, or excessive. And a few of the followers waited and waited and waited for hours, some underneath umbrellas, one in a wheelchair, just a few sharing bottles of water and different drinks they introduced for the Wemby stakeout, and some others shopping for chilly drinks from an enterprising fan armed with a cooler and a bullhorn throughout the road from the air strip.

When Wembanyama arrived, no person might hear the bullhorn anymore.

“It is going to be lots of enjoyable,” Sochan mentioned. “I feel he is prepared.”

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Printed : 2023-06-24 04:42:18

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