The San Antonio Spurs walked away winners of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes on Tuesday night, earning the once-in-a-lifetime chance to add a generational talent to their roster. While their front office must wait another month before selecting the 7-foot-5 center with the number one overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Gregg Popovich reportedly hopped on a flight to Paris less than 24 hours after his team hit the jackpot.
Although the league prohibits organizations from disclosing who they will choose before the NBA Draft unfolds, Wembanyama is all but guaranteed to be the first player off the board on June 22. It might be safe to assume Popovich is on his way to see the future face of the Spurs. Should that be the case, it would be reminiscent of the time he welcomed Tim Duncan to the franchise by taking a trip to his hometown in the Virgin Islands.
Once upon a time, Duncan was the belle of the ball, with clubs across the NBA tanking away their seasons for a shot to make him the centerpiece of their rebuild. The Silver and Black held the second-best odds of emerging with the grand prize of securing the Wake Forest standout, and Lady Luck was on their side as they gained the privilege to make him the first pick of the 1997 NBA Draft. From there, it was smooth sailing for San Antonio.
So as Popovich presumably visits Victor Wembanyama to get familiar with his friends and family, Spurs fans should be beaming at the thought of the towering teenage sensation receiving the Tim Duncan treatment. The 74-year-old skipper has always put forth extra effort to connect with players. But no relationship is more integral to establishing a foundation for long-term success than the one between a superstar and their head coach.