The 19-year-old frenchman has the weight of the sports world on his shoulders, facing expectations not seen since LeBron James in 2003. He played his first summer league game, and went a dreadful 2-for-13 from the field, drawing criticism across the internet and from the press.
“I want to be on the court and play basketball. I don't want to do all this. It's part of the business, but basketball first.”
His agent said he's never had a client step up and say he wanted to tone it down, and focus on the sport that matters, per Marc J. Spears of Andscape.com.
“Hey, basketball first. Slow down everything. I don’t want to do anything. I want to play basketball,” Wembanyama told agent Bouna Ndiaye.
If it is any indication on how much pressure Wembanyama is facing, there is an entire category on DraftKings Sportsbook entitled “Wemby,” focused on special props for the rookie to get 45+ points in any game, or the Spurs to get 40+ regular season wins.
It remains to be seen if Wemby and the Spurs can accomplish any of these feats, as they face long odds to compete for the playoffs and a championship. But the youngster is taking positive steps to create a healthier relationship with the media amid all of the fanfare, and will need a strong team around him to help deal with the spotlight.