VICTOR Wembanyama is getting a quick primer of San Antonio and the Spurs.
The No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft was welcomed on the city’s famed downtown River Walk on Saturday and later put on a uniform and hoisted shots on his new home floor.
But Mr. Wembanyama was probably most thrilled about meeting Spurs’ legends David Robinson, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. The 19-year-old Frenchmen got to hear about their experiences at a dinner Friday night, just hours after he arrived in San Antonio.
“In a couple hours, I learned more about the NBA than in my whole life,” the 7-foot-4 Mr. Wembanyama said in a press conference at the arena on Saturday. “It’s so comforting to see that these people who are so important to the city of San Antonio and this franchise are such kind people and generous because they genuinely wanted to share with me their experience.
“I feel like they have already started to take great care of me.”
Mr. Robinson (1987) and Mr. Duncan (1997) were also No. 1 overall picks. They are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as is Mr. Ginobili.
The Spurs have won five NBA titles but have fallen on hard times and missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. They were a porous 22-60 last season despite the presence of Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich.
So hopes are high that Wembanyama — the most coveted NBA draft pick since LeBron James in 2003 — can be the force that guides San Antonio back to the top of the NBA food chain.
“To Victor, I wanted to say to you directly, we’re excited to grow with you, support you, challenge you, especially Coach Pop — there’ll be a lot of challenging days — on your journey through life and basketball,” Spurs general manager Brian Wright said at the press conference. “Your talent is obvious, but as we got to know you, the maturity, the approach, the character really showed us how special of a young man you are.”
Mr. Wembanyama is slated to see some action in the NBA Summer League next month but first he is hoping for a bit of relaxation time.
He arrived from France on Monday and there was plenty of pre-draft hoopla surrounding him in the New York City area. The draft was Thursday night and he flew to San Antonio on Friday.
“The last 72 hours have been really tiring,” Mr. Wembanyama said. “But I’m really enjoying the moment. Everybody is doing a perfect job around me. Everybody is doing their best. I have my family and my people around me who love me. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve been welcomed warmly. It’s really comfortable. I’m really happy to be in this position.” — Reuters