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Victor Wembanyama Has At all times Done Things In a different way

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“Everybody is talking about him being a unicorn, being so different on the basketball court, but in real life he’s just a traditional kid, having fun with friends,” said Maxime Raynaud, who transferred to Nanterre in Wembanyama’s final 12 months there.

In October 2020, Raynaud and Wembanyama were training one afternoon when two older French pros arrived — Vincent Poirier and Rudy Gobert. Gobert played for the N.B.A.’s Utah Jazz on the time and had won the league’s Defensive Player of the Yr Award twice. The teenagers began trash-talking.

“As soon as we turned from messing around talking about playing to really playing two on two, there’s something that switches in his head and he just turns right into a kill mode,” Raynaud said of Wembanyama.

Video of the games went viral. Gobert, 30, who’s 7-foot-1, chuckled recently at how excited people were to see Wembanyama shooting over him. Wembanyama, at 16, was already taller than Gobert.

“On this era of social media, every part gets magnified,” Gobert said. “And you realize, those young kids, it’s loads of added pressure on them. I believe what strikes me essentially the most about him is his maturity.”

After Wembanyama graduated from highschool in 2021, he left Nanterre’s skilled team, Nanterre 92, for ASVEL, a club based in a suburb of Lyon, France, and owned by the previous N.B.A. star Tony Parker, who’s French. Then, in July, Wembanyama selected to go home: Metropolitans 92 is predicated in Levallois-Perret, near where his parents live.

Fans in town have sold out the two,800-seat arena for the primary three games of the team’s season.

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