VCF Sports >Football World >Wemby Watch: Victor Wembanyama in exclusive company with Shaquille O'Neal

Wemby Watch: Victor Wembanyama in exclusive company with Shaquille O'Neal

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Victor Wembanyama spurs crowd

Victor Wembanyama shows love to San Antonio fans after his career performance against New York on Friday night.

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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:


Career night 💪 

Two players combined for 101 points in a wild finish.

So, please excuse Wembanyama’s glow of awe, long after a moment he created Friday night at Frost Bank Center by scoring a career-high 40 points with 20 rebounds in a classic showdown with Jalen Brunson, who tallied 61 points, as San Antonio went overtime to defeat New York 130-126.

The triumph gave the Spurs their first three-game winning streak since 2022. In the overtime period, Wembanyama scored five points and snagged two rebounds in addition to a steal. He splashed a 3-pointer with 1:12 left in OT to put San Antonio ahead by four points.

In a game the Spurs led by as many as 21 points, the home team needed its new franchise cornerstone to sink a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left in regulation to send the contest into overtime. Wembanyama described the crowd as “kind of like the sixth man in those situations.” 

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted that on a night like Saturday’s gem, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Wembanyama is just 20 years old.

“I’m sure I do because when you’re looking at a young kid, if he turns it over, [or] doesn’t catch it strong, I’m on his a–,” Popovich said. “It just shows what he’s gonna be when he understands all the physicality that’s coming at him all the time, and what to do about it. Fortunately, he’s also a hell of a passer. So, he’s pretty special.”


Rookie reflection 💭

“I’ve never seen so much greatness before,” Wembanyama said after his career night. 

Us neither. The young Frenchman became the first rookie since Shaquille O’Neal (1993) to rack up 40 points and 20 rebounds in a single game.

“This season has only been going on for just some months, and I’ve just witnessed so much greatness and I want to be a part of it,” Wembanyama said. “I always wanted to. But [now] more and more, seeing that I’m already able to compete with those guys. I’m not there. But I’m on the right path. I know it, and I’m gonna get there one day soon.”

From this vantage point, the rookie has already arrived in stunning fashion.


1-man highlight reel 🤯

Relive every bucket, assist, steal and block from the rookie’s career night.

Victor Wembanyama notches 40-20 game in win over Knicks


One stat to know 📊

We mentioned earlier that Wembanyama is the first rookie since O’Neal to produce a 40-20 game, but he’s also just the ninth first-year player in NBA history to post that statline. Seven of those players are in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame: O’Neal, Bob McAdoo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elvin Hayes, Willis Reed, Walt Bellamy and Wilt Chamberlain.

He also became the first player in Spurs history to record 40-plus points, 20-plus rebounds, and 5-plus assists in a single game.

ICYMI, check out John Schuhmann’s deep dive into Wembanyama’s regular-season production in our new “What We’ve Seen” series.


Praise from across the league 👏

The Spurs rookie gained another fan in Brunson, whose 61 points registered as the second-highest scoring game in Knicks history behind Carmelo Anthony’s 62-point performance in 2014 against Charlotte.

“He’s gonna be one of the greatest players this game has ever seen,” the Knicks star said after their epic head-to-head battle. “Just the way he’s built, and what he’s been able to do so far. Got a lot of respect for him, and it’s definitely tough to get a shot up and in over him.” 

Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray also chimed in. Nicknamed “Baby Boy,” the former Spurs first-round pick made sure to pay homage to the new baby boy in San Antonio in the aftermath of Wembanyama’s historic performance.

WEMBY IS ELITE!!!! 💯

— Dejounte Murray (@DejounteMurray) March 30, 2024


ROY debate 🤔

That’s pretty much over now, right? Yes, Wembanyama and Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren face each another one more time on Apr. 10 at Paycom Center, and the awards ballots are just days away from hitting the inboxes of the voters.

But it seems like Wemby’s performance Friday only widened the gap between the Kia Rookie of the Year favorites. 

Holmgren scored 20 points with six rebounds, two assists and a block in a Thunder win Friday over the Phoenix Suns to bounce back from a subpar performance two days prior against Houston. Interestingly, Holmgren and the Thunder hit the road Sunday to face the Knicks.


Circle on calendar 📅

The leading candidates for Kia ROY and MVP face off for the third time this season as Wemby and the Spurs travel to Denver to face Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets on Tuesday (9 ET, NBA League Pass)


Fan love in San Antonio 🫶

Credit San Antonio’s in-arena announcers for learning a valuable lesson early on in Wembanyama’s NBA journey.

Just hand the rookie a mic after the game, and let Wemby go. The crowd at Frost Bank Center absolutely love it, judging from the reaction Friday when Wembanyama addressed the fan base after his career night.

"70 games through the season, I still see this place packed EVERY NIGHT. Love you guys, love the support… Go Spurs Go"

Wemby after a career night 🙌

40 PTS (career high) | 20 REB | 7 AST pic.twitter.com/HR6uiQcNRE

— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2024

The rookie drew a similar reaction when leading a “Go Spurs Go” chant in from a sold-out crowd last month after a Spurs win over the Thunder that snapped a five-game skid.

* * *

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

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery.

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