Victor Wembanyama’s First Season with the San Antonio Spurs: Analysis, Challenges, and Reflections

2023-12-12 12:13:12
Victor Wembanyama, at the Toyota Center in Houston (Texas), December 11, 2023. CARMEN MANDATO / AFP

The door to the San Antonio Spurs locker room has remained closed for a long time: please do not enter. A good half hour following the hostilities, some players from the Texan basketball franchise, all carefully prepared, finally came out. Then it was the turn of the coach, Gregg Popovich, dressed in a leather jacket and jogging pants, to leave the Toyota Center in Houston (Texas), with a smirk. Last member of the team to change, first to show a touch of frustration: Victor Wembanyama made a lucid observation following his team’s new setback once morest the Rockets (93-82), Monday December 11.

” It’s hardhe whispers at a press conference, in perfect English. I hate losing, but I stay focused. The good news is that no one doubts that we will emerge a winner from this period in the long term. » If the Frenchman signed a successful match on a personal level (15 points and 18 rebounds), the Spurs nevertheless recorded a 17th defeat in a row, the worst series in the rich history of the Texan franchise, five-time champion NBA.

“We are in the right direction: if we had put our shots [31/87, soit 36 % de réussite]the match would have been different », justifies fullback Devin Vassell. The conclusion is clear. However, this dark sequence seems to arouse little emotion within the team. Gregg Popovich, third most successful coach in NBA history (2,427 games) and recently inducted into the League Hall of Fame, was him ” very proud “ of his flock, who “really moved their asses”.

The Frenchman faces the first challenge of his career

“Wemby” was in no mood to join in the jokes exchanged by several players and staff members. He remained unmoved, without a smile or a look. Once he had put on his black cargo pants and gray wool jacket, the 19-year-old prodigy left the locker room and walked heavily into the darkness. “If Spurs think Victor likes to lose, they’re wrong…”said Pascal Donnadieu recently, who was his first professional coach with Nanterre between 2019 and 2021.

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The NBA, like all professional sports leagues in the United States, is “closed”: the way of conceiving of defeat is completely different for teams at the bottom of the table, because they cannot be demoted to the level. lower. “It’s a change from Europe where everything can change from one season to another. There, no one panicsinsists Victor Wembanyama. Everyone is always so professional. »

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