The plays with which the rookie Wembanyama makes social networks explode | Basketball | Sports

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Sunday, December 31, 2023. The Boston Celtics say goodbye to the year with a game against the San Antonio Spurs. Victor Wembanyama grabs a loose ball in the middle of the field and goes on the counterattack. He dribbles the ball just once and with that is enough to get into the basket and make a one-handed dunk. Derrick White tries to defend helplessly. The video of that mate, in its version of Instagram, has become the most viewed social media post in NBA history, with 153 million views (and counting). Added to this are other versions in which the play is seen from something before. or even from the beginningboth on the official NBA account and in others.

The dunk against the Celtics is just one of the French player's plays that have gone viral on social media. The number 1 of draft last year he does things never seen before in the NBA. With his height of about 2.23 meters and his even greater wingspan, he makes impossible blocks, sometimes with the tips of your fingerssometimes above the rimspectacularly slow motion aestheticsas they are often shared.

Wembanyama has become a viral phenomenon in its first season in the American professional basketball league and has surpassed 1 billion views this week on the NBA's official social media accounts. He has emerged as the third player with the most views this season, only behind established stars with a long career and great popularity such as LeBron James (about 1.3 billion) and Stephen Curry (about 1.2 billion).

The deputy commissioner of the NBA, Mark Tatum, highlighted a few weeks ago in a telematic conversation with several international media the enormous success of the French player: “I think it's simple. I think it's his game and I think it's his popularity. I think he has an incredibly bright future. He is a young, developing player. And although he hasn't had many wins yet this season, I know the Spurs are very encouraged by his play. He's doing things that have never been done before, frankly,” he said.

Things like putting a block on a rival center when the basket seems to have been made, crossing the court dribbling as if he were a point guard, dribbling at an opponent passing the ball behind his back and throwing it to the backboard to give himself a self-pass with the idea of ​​making a dunk, another of his viral plays, in this case against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wembanyama claims the spotlight on its own. Despite their dismal results, the San Antonio Spurs are the third most viewed NBA team worldwide on social media this season (1.1 billion views), only behind the Los Angeles Lakers (2 billion) and the Golden State Warriors. (1.7 billion). Spurs have seen a 67% increase in engagement on their social media.

Of course, its impact is much greater in France. The Spurs are the most watched team in their country on NBA League Pass, the application that allows you to watch games online. Spurs viewership has increased 177% compared to last season on that channel and has also skyrocketed on linear television. NBA League Pass subscriptions in France have grown 25% year-on-year.

Wembanyama's jersey is the second best-selling in Europe in the NBA Store.eu and the fourth best-selling in the world, only behind those of Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum and LeBron James, according to NBA sources.

There was a time when Chet Holmgren looked like he was in the shadows for the rookie of the year award, but Wembanyama has slipped away in terms of individual performances. By playing as a center he has greatly improved his performance. At the same time, in defense he is becoming more and more imposing. The poor results of his team weigh on him, though, as he is having one of the worst seasons in his history.

Wembanyama tops currently the rookie standings in points per game (20.6), rebounds per game (10.2) and steals per game (1.3) and leads all NBA players in blocks per game (3.3). His triple-double against Toronto of 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks made him the fifth player in NBA history with at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks in a game (joining Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and David Robinson, with a total of 45 All-Star appearances between them).

“It was an incredible game,” Tatum recalled. “The fans recognize him as an incredible talent, the Wemby effect has been felt throughout the league,” he added, emphasizing that “he is a global phenomenon.” “People want to see great players with great talent, they want to see the future. And I think Victor Wembanyama is a glimpse of what the future of the NBA could be, if he continues on this trajectory,” explained the league's deputy commissioner.

Last week in the game against Luka Dončić's Dallas Mavericks, Wembanyama scored his 1,000th point, becoming the fourth fastest player to reach 1,000 points in his NBA career, even surpassing Michael Jordan. And in Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Victor Wembanyama became the 15th player—and also the youngest in NBA history—to achieve a 5×5 (27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks).

Wembanyama has shown that he has the ability to mark an era in the NBA. Basketball, however, is a team game and his team cannot at the moment even hope to get into the playoffs.

All of these achievements of the French player occur, on the other hand, in his first season. The unknown is how much he can continue to grow and if he needs to continue gaining strength and adapting to American professional basketball, so different from Europe. It seems that Wemby is a quick learner.

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