He’s 7-foot-4. He’s only 17 years old. And unless you’re a professional basketball fan-geek, you probably haven’t heard of Victor Wembanyama. But just like almost everyone — hoop fans and non-hoop fans alike — has heard of LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama will soon be a household name, too.
He’s apparently that good. In the National Basketball Association draft in the summer of 2023, Wembanyama is almost a certainty to be chosen No. 1 overall, giving the team fortunate enough to own his rights a fighting chance to start contending for NBA championships.
Wembanyama is from France. He plays for a professional team called Metropolitans 92 and in early October, his club played two exhibition games against one of the NBA’s G League teams, the Ignite.
The youngster’s introduction to the U.S. sports media was spectacular, as he scored 37 and 36 points respectively, with 15 rebounds in the two games.
One person who came away impressed was the NBA’s main man, LeBron himself. “Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, but he’s more like an alien,” James said on NBA.com. “No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor … He’s, for sure, a generational talent.”
Wembanyama’s Wikipedia page makes reference to his ball-handling skills and shooting ability, normally not strong points for players of his height.
In a description of a play in one of the Metropolitans 92-Ignite games, the NBA.com site said the following: “Victor Wembanyama blocked a shot Thursday afternoon, ran to the other end of the court, went airborne from just inside the foul line, corralled an alley-oop pass with one hand and slammed home a dunk. The entire sequence lasted eight seconds.”
The new NBA season is just under way, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks favoured to win the championship.
Toronto Raptors are pegged by betting sites to have a middle-of-the-road season, with a playoff position a possibility. How great would it be for Victor Wembanyama to wind up in a Raptor uniform to start the 2023-24 season?
The French youngster might prefer coming to a country where bilingualism means English and French instead of an American centre where English and Spanish are the favoured languages.
One NBA general manager said Wembanyama is the most hyped prospect since James in 2002 which means, if he lives up to his billing, he’d be a better player than Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Ja Morant, Nikola Jokic, Luca Doncic and Kawhi Leonard, among others.
That’s high praise for a player who will stand tall on NBA courts, starting next season.
• Steve Simmons of Sunmedia.com: “The Hunter Brothers sang the national anthems at the Blue Jays final game and hard as I looked I couldn’t see Dale, Mark, or Dave among them.”
• Columnist Norman Chad on Twitter, “Rays-Guardians MLB playoff game through 13 innings. No runs, seven hits, 35 strikeouts. Pitchers’ duels can be scintillating and stirring; however, this one has been more like watching a concrete truck at a construction site.”
• From a FakeKenHolland account on Twitter, in reacting to complaints of high concession prices at Oilers’ home games: “All hats collected from Connor’s hat-trick celebration will be available for sale, with a complimentary bag of popcorn, at the Rogers Place concession stand starting at the low low price of $225.”
Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, after two lacklustre Thursday Night Football games: “There has not been a touchdown on Thursday Night Football in over six quarters. Right now TNF stands for Touchdowns Not Featured.”
Another one from Kaseberg: “During Tampa Bay’s 21-15 win over Atlanta, Tom Brady received a questionable roughing-the-passer call. How questionable? I’ve seen more vicious tackles waiting in line at Starbucks.”
A groaner from RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “According to spotrac.com, Dallas offensive lineman Jason Peters actually has a base annual salary $30,000 higher than RB Tony Pollard. Might be time for the Cowboys to rob Peters to pay Pollard.”
• Headline at theonion.com: “Astros Caught Politely Asking Catcher For Little Heads-Up On Pitch Selection.”
• Fark.com headline: “What are you in for? Bank robbery. You? Murder. You? Cheating at fishing.” • Warriors guard Steph Curry, to reporters, on 7-foot-4 French wunderkind Victor Wembanyama: “He’s like the (NBA) 2K create-a-player; he’s every point guard that wants to be 7 foot. Cheat-code type vibes, man.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com, on the Blue Jays’ painful collapse with an 8-1 lead in the AL Wild Card playoffs: “On the other hand, they’ve been made honorary Toronto Maple Leafs.”
• Norman Chad again, on Twitter: “If Aaron Judge had played for 73-99 Angels and Shohei Ohtani had played for 99-63 Yankees, Ohtani would win the MVP award. And, frankly, New York would’ve replaced the Statue of Liberty with the Statue of Ohtani.” Care to comment? Email email@example.com
by Bruce Penton