“It’s up to me not to ruin everything,” said legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, about the unique potential of his new French player Victor Wembanyama, on the sidelines of San Antonio’s defeat against the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA on Sunday ( 123-83).
“We’re at game six of the NBA finals, right?” joked “coach Pop”, particularly talkative, in front of the number of journalists crowded into the tiny room dedicated to his press briefing, a consequence of the presence in Los Angeles by Victor Wembanyama.
The expectations surrounding Victor Wembanyama are immense. What about on a daily basis?Gregg Popovich: He simply works like the others. We have game systems, he has to learn them. He must discover our championship, he has never played against all these guys before, nor with those on our team. There is no magic formula, it has to go through lots of stages. Fortunately, he is an intelligent, serious, conscientious young man. He will surely become a great player, but he has to learn first. He listens and understands everything, it's as simple as that. I don't need to shout to get his attention. He is polite, respectful, he wants to become a great player. This young man has already learned many lessons, and knows where his priorities are. He's not distracted by expectations or anything. His parents did a great job. It's up to me not to ruin everything.
What do you want him to mainly work on this season? I think our common thread will be solidity. In all sectors. He doesn't need to dazzle anyone. Just playing. If he plays the right way, then maybe the basketball gods will be kind to him. Because he has the ability. If you look at the greats of this game, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, they were fundamentally solid people. They knew how to pivot, to feint. They knew which interception, which rebound, which defense was going to win them the game. He will have this experience, to understand what the game requires, depending on the score, the clock, who is on the floor, who is defending against him. The experience will shape him.
Do you see any similarities with the arrival of Kawhi Leonard at the Spurs in 2011? When Kawhi Leonard arrived there was Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, we weren't going to give him the balls like that. He had to grow up. For “Wemby” it is different, we do not have such players in the team today. Victor will quickly become the leader, it's just a matter of time. I won't hold it for long.
Comments collected at a press conference