SAN ANTONIO – Kyrie Irving has made a career out of steering his 6-foot-2 frame into a lane of giants, spinning around them and improbably making shots at the rim.
But shooting a jumper over Victor Wembanyama? It’s an entirely new, and difficult, task for Irving and the rest of the NBA.
Wembanyama, the 19-year-old Frenchman who is 7-foot-4, with quick feet, and absurdly long arms, made his much-hyped NBA debut Wednesday night for the San Antonio Spurs. On his first defensive possession, Wemby closed on Irving and swatted away his jumper near the foul line.
Those shots simply aren’t supposed to be blocked by a defender who isn’t guarding the shooter, but Wemby is so quick and so long that he was able to get to Irving’s shot even though it was well out of his hand.
Welcome to the Wemby experience.
WELCOME TO THE WEMBY ERA 🙌
7-4 Victor Wembanyama’s first NBA basket comes from behind the three-point line…
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) October 26, 2023
The No. 1 pick of the 2023 draft, who was born in the western Paris suburb of Le Chesnay, and was the French pro league’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year last season, finished his first half of NBA basketball with six points (2-for-4 from 3), three rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal and two fouls.
Wemby’s first basket — cementing himself already as the tallest 3-and-D player in NBA history — was a 3-ball with 8:24 in the first quarter. He made another before the period was out, but headed back to the bench with his second foul.
The Spurs led Irving’s Dallas Mavericks, 68-64, at halftime. Mavericks star Luka Dončić finished the half with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
There were more than 200 media credential requests made for reporters from eight different countries, a Spurs official said.
“Victor’s had a lot of attention pointed toward him for a very long time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And, you know, that’s not going to change. Fortunately for us, he’s a really mature, prioritized young man and knows what he wants. He’s already a pro. He’s a professional. I don’t have to teach him what it means to be a pro. His parents and other coaches have already done that.”
This story will be updated.
(Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein / NBAE via Getty Images)