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Wemby Watch: Unicorns, aliens, Tom Brady and more from Victor Wembanyama's rugged week

Spurs struggle during tough week, but rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama attracts attention on and off court.

Wemby Watch: Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama finished the week with a strong showing against Minnesota, collecting 29 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. 

Stay up to date on No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama during his rookie campaign with the San Antonio Spurs. A new Wemby Watch drops every Sunday during the season. Here’s what we saw this week: 

On the road ✈️

Ahead of his Madison Square Garden debut, the rookie phenom broke bread with NFL legend Tom Brady in New York. Wembanyama said he and Brady ran into each other at a dinner with Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion seemed mesmerized by the 7-foot-4 rookie, calling out the height disparity on social media. 

Notice anything off? 

Work in progress ⏳

When San Antonio won the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery back in May, multiple members of the club’s brass privately discussed an imperative to “honor the opportunity” of selecting a generational player of Wembanyama’s ilk.

Nothing’s changed nine games into the season.

I feel more responsibility than excitement [about coaching Wembanyama] to be honest with you,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “There’s always pressure, but it’s not debilitating. With him in the program now, I think to some degree we have to figure it out all over again how to play around him.”

1-man highlight reel 🤯

You’ll see plenty here, including the first 4-point play of Wembanyama’s young career Sunday against the Raptors.

LNB Pro A vs. NBA 📋

Wembanyama avoided the grind of back-to-back games last season while playing for Metropolitans 92 in France’s LNB Pro A league. The rookie played in his first back-to-back set last week and struggled in Monday’s 41-point loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Popovich downplayed the effects of the club’s first back-to-back of 2023-24.

“They made 13 free throws in the first quarter, eight second-chance points, eight fast-break points, all in the first quarter,” he said. “Back-to-back has nothing to do with it. It’s November last time I checked.”

1 stat to know 📊

Wembanyama certainly throws block parties, notching a career-high five blocks in last Sunday’s overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors.

No. 3 in the league in blocks per game (2.6 bpg), the 19-year-old has swatted away 23 attempts. That ties Hall of Famer David Robinson for 10th in NBA history over the first nine games of a career since the start of the 1973-74 season, when the league officially started recording blocks.

Rookie reflection 💭

Wembanyama says he’s “not a real big fan” of the nickname “unicorn.” To him, that’s tired and played out.

“That nickname’s been used over and over,” he said. “Just like LeBron [James] said: everybody’s been a unicorn. But [there’s] just one alien, right?”


What he’s reading 📚

An avid reader and a fan of Star Wars, Wembanyama read his first book in English (“Eragon”) a little more than a year ago. 

Fantasy novels serve the 19-year-old’s desire to disconnect from the world when he’s not busy.

So, it’s no surprise Wembanyama also devoured the “Game of Thrones” series of novels, called “Le Trone de Fer” in French, which translates to “The Iron Throne.” 

Wembanyama revealed on Friday that he’s currently digging into another series of fantasy novels by Brandon Sanderson called “The Stormlight Archive.” The series contains four published novels and a pair of novellas. But there’s a fifth novel in the series expected to be released next November.

In the spotlight 📸

After his first In-Season Tournament game against Rudy Gobert and the Timberwolves, the Frenchmen met at center court where they swapped jerseys and exchanged postgame chatter. 

Wembanyama scored 29 points in the loss, but three of his four blocks came against Gobert, who has been a mentor to the rookie long before his NBA days. 

“It feels special that I know every night there’s going to be one or two guys who are going to be special to play against,” Wembanyama said. “But even more since it’s someone that has over the years tried to take care of me and teach me some stuff. It’s even more special and challenging.”

In the news 🗞️

Colleague Steve Aschburner lists Wembanyama No. 1 in the first edition of his Kia Rookie Ladder.

The Wemby effect 📈

This year’s draft was the most-watched NBA Draft ever on any network, partially thanks to the growing interest in one of the biggest prospects in league history. 

As the NBA continues efforts to boost its global reach, Wembanyama’s presence certainly helps. The numbers speak for themselves. 

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

Michaela Gilmer is a producer for

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