Victor Wembanyama passes first test

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If it wasn’t obvious from Victor Wembanyama’s interview on J.J. Redick’s podcast, this young man is ready for NBA life. Las Vegas, the slow July sports news cycle, Britney Spears, all of it crashed down on him in less than 24 hours. However, when it came time to address the scenario, Wembanyama was cool as ice.

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Didn’t see that coming

He spoke to the media at a San Antonio Spurs summer league practice and gave his account of what happened when Brittney Spears tried to get his attention.

“One person who was calling me, but we talked before with security [they said] don’t stop because it’s gonna make a crowd,” Wembanyama said to the media. “So I couldn’t stop and the person was calling me ‘Sir, Sir.’ That person grabbed me from behind, so I didn’t see what happened [and I was told] don’t stop. But that person grabbed me from behind, not on my shoulders. She grabbed me from behind.”

He also said that person was pushed by a member of Spurs security — though he couldn’t tell how hard — and later found out that it was Spears. She posted on social media that she did not grab him but instead tapped him, and was then hit in the face which knocked off her glasses. Spears has also filed a police report. The Spurs have not yet responded.

If she got hit in the face, the guard was obviously out of line. There are better ways for a professional to handle that situation. That being said, she was once a young celebrity. She should have known better than to make physical contact with Wembanyama.

If someone tapped her on the shoulder in 1999 who security didn’t immediately recognize, that person would have lost the finger. I’m not saying all security guards are quick to strike, but discovering who is and who isn’t can be a painful revelation. NBA team security is certainly not to be trifled with. The Cleveland Cavaliers staff showed that in 2017 on the New York Metro. Spears also mentioned in her post that she had security with her so I don’t understand why she didn’t have them approach the Spurs’ staff, especially in a crowded hallway.

Does Wembanyama even know who Britney Spears is?

In the aftermath, young Wemby handled the situation with veteran deftness, while using his second language. He didn’t shy away from the question, and kept his composure while providing an answer. Wembanyama gave a calm and clear account of what took place that night from his vantage point. Spears clearly wasn’t satisfied with his explanation, but he did just enough to get the focus back on his Friday night Summer League debut against the Charlotte Hornets.

Wembanyama was born in 2004. He wasn’t alive when Spears and Christina Aguilera kissed Madonna at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. “Crazy” and “Baby one more time” can’t possibly resonate the same with him as it does with most of the media covering him. But he does know that she is a pop-culture figure, and handled that media scrum as if he worked in the French Embassy.

At only 19 years old, of course Wembanyama is capable of making some embarrassing public mistakes. He has a lot to learn, but he showed on Thursday that he has prepared for the NBA life, not just basketball. Two nights before his first nationally televised appearance with his NBA team, he was involved in a viral incident with one of the most well-known celebrities in the world. Wembanyama did not break stride.

He is most certainly ready for prime time.

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