San Antonio Spurs Managing Partner Peter J. Holt had a clear field of vision for the Mark Tatum cards. before NBA The Deputy Commissioner could even say that Charlotte Hornets Holt was the second pick in the draft, hit the table and started jumping off his chair. Once Tatum’s words became official, Holt exclaimed “Woo!” and “Let’s go!” in jubilation.
Everything Spurs were aiming for – getting into a rebuilding phase and developing young talent while vying for the No. 1 pick – was felt by the reward of a ping-pong ball. San Antonio just won the Victor Wimpanyama sweepstakes, and that rebuild? Forget about the process. San Antonio has the most unique prospect the NBA has ever seen, and the best since LeBron James in 2003. It was the third time the Spurs had won the draft lottery, and what about that company for the 7-foot-3 Frenchman—David Robinson in 1987 and Tim Duncan in 1997 marked the other two events.
“I think I jumped the gun on my reaction, my apologies to Charlotte and Mark[Tatum]I told him I was sorry after that — but I thought I was going to pass out, I was so excited,” Holt said, who kept a small golden key inside his suit jacket as a good luck charm after the lottery. “I felt a little bad that I jumped into the gun before they even called our name, but this is so exciting. The game of basketball is so much fun, the Spurs are full of joy and history, and a living legacy that is just an honor to be a part of.”
The Spurs should be filled with elation, because after four years of sub-. 500 records and no playoff appearances, combined with what will be a seven-year drought without a postseason victory when 2024 rolls around, the complexion of the franchise has completely changed.
For Spurs general manager Brian Wright, who was Spurs’ representative in the drawing room before the public announcement, the run-up to the lottery included an unintentional fast. He couldn’t even think about food, going 24 hours without eating anything.
“I couldn’t eat all day, man,” Wright said. “I woke up at 5 a.m. wishing I’d gone to sleep. It didn’t, and we ran on the floor. You never know with that stuff. We got lucky tonight. Then the numbers start coming in, and you’ll see what happens. It’s a great day, and we’re so excited. We’ve got people Great in this organization from Pop (Gregg Popovich) to RC (Buford) to the people who don’t get as much love. I love the city of San Antonio, the community and this game. This is special.”
All Wembanyama did for the Metropolitans 92, France’s LNB Pro A team, averaged 21.6 points on 47% shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in just over 32 minutes per game.
“It’s nothing we’ve ever seen in a game of basketball,” a scout told FOX Sports as part of a poll conducted by five talent evaluators from different teams in the NBA. “There are always changing ages of basketball, and now we’re in the age of spaceball where it’s about what you can do to save space on the floor. How do you fight that? With size and skill. Victor Wimpanyama is one of those categories.”
He would instantly become the focus of the franchise, surrounded by a young, up-and-coming core Keldon Johnson (23), Devin Vassell (22), Trey Jones (23), Regal Branham (20) and Jeremy Suchan (19).
The other class for Tottenham winning the lottery? San Antonio have had two great French players in their history with four-time champions Tony Parker (2001-18 with Tottenham) and 2014 champion Boris Diaw (2012-16 with Tottenham), both of whom have links to Mbanyama. Get this: Boris Diaw is the president of Metropolitans 92 of the LNB Pro A and Tony Parker is the majority owner of the ASVEL Basket, two of the three teams Wembanyama has played for.
“Well, maybe we don’t need a translator,” Wright said when asked about Spurs and their success with players from France. “We brought in some great French players, and what they meant to basketball and this country, and what Victor can mean to that country and to basketball globally is really exciting. Having that connection is great for our organization and I think it would be great for him to absorb and adapt to what we’re doing and that Just be part of our community.”
“Success with international guys always goes back to pop and RC,” Wright added. “Bob, from the time he was playing, he always knew there was talent all over the world. They made it their mission to look for that before a lot of teams even knew there were NBA players in those places.”
The Spurs made it a mission to arrive on Tuesday night in Chicago, giving themselves a chance to win the generational lottery.
“Years ago, we saw him,” Wright said. “When you see it (wimpanyama), it’s more of a ‘It would be nice to have it’. You start making actual plans to see if you can pull something off (to get it). We’re very lucky, and we got lucky tonight.”
Regardless of the Wimpanyama team, there is much more than just the player heading into the market. He has this aura about him and a presence that is only increasing, which will take over the city in which he plays.
when using the term Generational talentThis is beyond basketball capabilities, Wright said. “When you talk about generational talent, it goes beyond your ability to make shots. And while we’ve studied Victor, he’s very in-depth in everything he does.”
Even before he took to the stage at the Barclays Center on June 22 to make it official with his organization, everything Wimpy done up to this point? It meant that on Tuesday night, a simple ping-pong ball changed everything about the San Antonio Spurs and their future.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers sports in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John Fanta.
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