Victor Wembanyama, among the stars of All-Star Weekend, continues his discovery of the NBA

In their turn, American spectators are gradually getting used to it: with Victor Wembanyama, excess seems the norm. The San Antonio Spurs phenomenon delivers a successful first season in the NBA and rewards the public game after game with sequences sometimes seeming to come out of a video game: “dunks” while taking support off the racket – easier from the top of 2, 24 meters –, passes behind the back or chained blocks (he dominates the North American basketball league in this category, and recently made ten “blocks” in a single match), the 20-year-old Frenchman likes to put on a show. His skills make him a perfect candidate for All-Star Weekend.

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For three days, the NBA regular season is paused and the country’s best players converge on the same destination. In 2024, Indianapolis, capital of the land of the orange ball that is Indiana, will host the big rally from Friday February 16 to Sunday February 18.

Despite statistics making him a legitimate contender (20.5 points, 10 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game), Victor Wembanyama was not selected for the “star game”, which pits the elite of the Eastern Conferences against each other. and North American League West. He undoubtedly suffers from his team’s poor record – with 11 wins and 44 defeats, the Spurs are dead last in the West. However, he did make the trip to Indiana. And, like his season, his first All-Star Weekend promises to be hectic: the immense Frenchman should be the center of all attention.

After attending the seminar which inaugurates the event, “Wemby” plays the Rising Star Game on Friday evening (at 3 a.m. Paris time), an all-star match for NBA neophytes. With his compatriot and ex-teammate at the Metropolitans 92 Bilal Coulibaly, the Frenchman should shine in this mini-tournament seeing four teams of rookies (players playing their first year in the NBA) and sophomores (those playing their second year) compete against each other. He will continue on Saturday with the Skills Challenge, a dexterity test.

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“I’ve been so focused on our season that I haven’t really thought about this programassured Victor Wembanyama at a press conference. In my opinion, it will hit me when I get there. And it’s sure to be a special experience, and I can’t wait. I wonder what it’s like to see… all these great players in the same jersey. »

Closely watched by the Spurs, who monitor his minutes played and protect their prodigy, the Frenchman is having a first season that lives up to the expectations he has generated. “I thought it would be better to get an idea of ​​what he was worth by watching him play.”whispered, during the week, the coach of the Texan franchise, Gregg Popovich, after letting “Wemby” find his feet in the league. “Now we know a lot more about him. » The entire NBA can confirm this. Now favorite in the race to the best rookie of the year after having been competed for a time by the interior of the Oklahoma City Thunder Chet Holmgren, the Frenchman rallied most observers to his cause.

“Wembanyama is fun to watch play”, former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal said this week. Converted into a television consultant, the multiple All-Star had not hidden his skepticism at the arrival of the always frail Habs in the NBA. “His team may not be playing well, but he is playing very well. »

Read the portrait: Article reserved for our subscribers Victor Wembanyama, the French basketball star in the spotlight of the NBA

Sunday, the rookie will not be on the ultra-technological floor unveiled by the NBA for this weekend – a huge LED screen, covered with an unbreakable filter and evoking the texture of a wooden floor. He will witness star LeBron James’ twentieth All-Star Game selection from the front row – a record. The most anticipated player in the league in 2003, like “Wemby” twenty years later, the current Lakers player also did not have the honor of being an All-Star in his first season.


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“Of course, being selected would have been an achievement, but I think more about winning matches and progressing with the team than that”, commented Victor Wembanyama this week. If he continues his career on the momentum of his start to the season, the Frenchman should quickly swell the ranks of “stars”, and offer the public his range of movements in an upcoming match where, in general, defenses are absent. . “He will soon become a very, very big problem for the opponents”, his compatriot Rudy Gobert soberly prophesied at the beginning of November, after facing the phenomenon for the first time in the NBA. A very, very big problem, even.

Read our infographic: Article reserved for our subscribers Victor Wembanyama from every angle

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