Victor Wembanyama will not play in the 2023 FIBA World Cup in order to prepare for his first NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs, it has been confirmed.
Speaking to L’Equipe, Wembanyama said he came to the decision on his own after speaking with his close friends, the medical staff, and executives of the French national team.
Wembanyama, who was just drafted No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft by the Spurs, called the decision “difficult” but a “necessary sacrifice”.
“The Spurs would have supported me whatever my choice had been,” Wembanyama said, ending any speculation that the Spurs had any influence on his decision.
“It would not be realistic in terms of development and not careful in terms of health,” Wembanyama added. “I hope people will understand. It’s frustrating for me too. The France team is still my focus. I want to win as many titles as possible with it. But I think it’s a necessary sacrifice.”
Wembanyama just wrapped up a season with the Metropolitans 92, averaging 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 3.0 blocks per game in 34 appearances.
The 19-year-old’s comments come just two days after he was introduced to his new team and fans in the United States. Wembanyama was greeted by hundreds of fans who waited for hours at the airport and had dinner with Spurs legends Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and Manu Ginobili.
“Probably in a couple of hours, I learned more about the NBA than in my whole life before that,” Wembanyama told reporters afterward when asked about the dinner.
“It’s so comforting to see these people who are so important to the city of San Antonio and to the franchise are such kind people and generous,” he added. “Because they genuinely wanted to share with me their experience. They’ve already started to take great care of me. It’s just so comforting to be in that position.”