Crowd greets Victor Wembanyama at airport as he arrives for NBA Draft
Victor Wembanyama has arrived in the U.S. for the NBA draft.
The plane from France carrying Wembanyama - who almost certainly will be taken by the San Antonio Spurs with the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s draft - arrived at Newark International Airport outside of New York City on Monday.
And even before becoming an NBA star, he got his first official taste of NBA stardom.
Some fans knew what flight he was on and when the plane was landing, and many were waiting. Wembanyama cheerfully signed autographs, scrawling his name onto basketballs and Spurs jerseys - some even with his name already on the back - before making his way into a waiting vehicle.
“I don’t know how they knew what flight I was on, but it’s fun,” Wembanyama said in a video distributed on the NBA’s social media channels as he walked through the New Jersey airport, ducking his head to avoid some of the signage bolted to the terminal’s ceiling. “It’s different, seeing that you can have such impact on people.”
It’s the start of a hectic few days for the 19-year-old French phenom who long has been considered a generational prospect the likes of which hasn’t been seen since LeBron James entered the league in 2003. Wembanyama is expected to appear at a pre-draft media availability on Wednesday, then has the actual draft Thursday and likely will be in San Antonio sometime Friday.
The rest of his summer won’t exactly be slow, either.
Wembanyama already has been announced as one of the expected participants in the inaugural NBA Con in Las Vegas coinciding with the start of Summer League there from July 7-9, and he has said he wants to play for France in the Basketball World Cup that will take place in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan starting in late August and running through Sept. 10.