Wembanyama image takes hit after crushing loss to rival Rockets

San Antonio Spurs' rookie Victor Wembanyama compounded one of his worst games of the year with a bad move he'll have to learn from.
Alperen Sengun, Victor Wembanyama
Alperen Sengun, Victor Wembanyama / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs' loss to their Texas rival, the Rockets, was disappointing for a myriad of reasons. The biggest one is about losing the season series to the team in red. Houston and San Antonio have always been rivals but there hadn't been any real heat between the two teams until Victor Wembanyama's arrival.

Most Spurs fans will remember how upset Rockets fans were when Wemby cheered during the NBA Draft Lottery as Houston's pick was announced at 4, ensuring he would not go there. They took it personally, and the online battles have been fierce between the fan bases ever since.

One of the best things about Victor has been his maturity and ability to seemingly handle everything being thrown his way with grace. He has been almost perfect in every way, but that perception took a hit following the loss.

Wembanyama made a mistake but it's not the end of the world

Victor is not just taking on the mantle as the face of the San Antonio Spurs; he is being talked about as the future face of the NBA. That is an immense amount of pressure for anyone, but especially for a 20-year-old kid from France in his rookie year. He may have a few missteps, but he will learn to take nights like that on the chin. It was one of his worst performances of the year, with only 10 points. He still chipped in 11 rebounds and seven blocks, but he was outclassed throughout the contest.

The Rockets were aggressive on defense, crowding him with multiple guys while getting physical with the slightly-framed giant. He got in foul trouble in the third quarter and didn't attempt a shot in the second half. It was an abysmal showing. The desire to leave as fast as possible after a poor game is understandable, but as the best player on the team, he will be expected to face the media. He should not leave his coach and teammates to answer questions about his performance.

There is pride involved in professional sports. These players do not get to where they are without some semblance of an ego. That ego was challenged last night in more ways than one. The way they played him on the court and these comments from Sengun after should light a fire under a kid who has already showcased comfort in the kitchen. Expect Wembanyama and the Spurs to turn the heat up in future matchups with Houston. They won't forget this.