Victor Wembanyama appears to double down on his praise of Spurs culture

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs / Aurelien Meunier/GettyImages
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The San Antonio Spurs seem all-in on losing as many games as possible and drafting generational talent Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Wembanyama, a 7’3” sharpshooting forward (or point guard? Or center? I don’t know anymore), has led all draft talks since the 2022 Draft wrapped up, and he was a common name even before that. 

Last month, the Frenchmen suggested that the team that drafts him needs to immediately focus on winning games. The tank would effectively be over. He won’t sit around for multi-year rebuilds like we’re seeing in Houston or Detroit; he wants to make the playoffs as soon as possible. 

First overall draft pick shows he would fit into the Spurs' organization

That seems parallel to the so-called Spurs culture of winning basketball games as a team and posting many more wins than losses. The Culture of Timmy, Tony, and Manu has since fizzled out, but as long as Popovich is at the helm of the Spurs, the ways of Silver & Black basketball will persist. 

Austin Rivers recently took to TikTok to express his displeasure with the way basketball is running away from win-first team styles. “The little things in basketball are forgotten now, and they’re not appreciated,” he said. Things like ball movement and finding the open man, which the Spurs are famous for? 

Rivers complained about mixtape culture and how highly touted prospects care more about building a highlight reel than winning games or setting up for their teammates. “Hockey passes,” Rivers calls them.

"“And you’re seeing it with some of these guys that come into the NBA. And I can name you names, but I’m not going to; that come into the NBA and have all the talent in the world, but they need to be taught basketball because this is what basketball is now. Highlight culture has absolutely killed the game of basketball.”"

Austin Rivers

Rivers: Highlight and hype culture is killing pure basketball

The polar opposite to “highlight culture?” Maybe the boring old San Antonio Spurs, who played boring basketball for 20 years and went on the most dominant run in the NBA’s history. So what does all of this have to do with Wembanyama, the potential savior of the Spurs’ culture? 

“It’s real.” That’s all Wemby had to say to make one thing abundantly clear: his insane highlights are not to raise his draft stock. It’s hard to imagine a world where the NBA is even higher on the teenager. He wants to win games now, not wait around until he gets to the Association. And that’s what Spurs basketball is all about: winning and a team game. 

According to Bouna Ndiaye, Wembanyama’s agent, the star in the making wants to play just to win, not for glory. If that were the case, he would sit out, considering that he already has all eyes on him. 

""NBA people are telling me to shut him down, and we are not going to shut him down. If we came with that kind of talk to him, he will look at us and say, 'What are you talking about?' He'll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better. With Victor, it's basketball first and everything else second.”"

Bouna Ndiaye

In a league filled with players who only care about making themselves look good, it’s refreshing that one of the sport’s biggest names is all-in on playing basketball the right way and the Spurs’ way. 

dark. Next. Where has Keldon Johnson's shot gone?

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Spurs land Wembanyama, even if they post the worst record in the league. Come draft lottery, all fans can hope for is that the ping-pong balls fall in our favor. 

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