Sean Pendergast

Are NBA Fans Really Into Spurs Phenom Victor Wembanyama?

Rocket fans prayed for Victor, but now have to watch him play for the Spurs.
Rocket fans prayed for Victor, but now have to watch him play for the Spurs. Screen gran from YouTube
For months, we Houston Rocket fans knew our marching orders. They were given to us in the midst of a (possibly, slightly inebriated) interview on Channel 2 with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. The Landry's founder was chatting with KPRC's Frank Billingsly at Mardi Gras in Galveston, and told us all exactly what needed to be done to pull his franchise out of the cycle of draft lotteries it's been in for the last three seasons.

The order was simple.....PRAY FOR VICTOR!
"Victor," of course, was teenage phenom Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-4 French freak of nature, who was and is considered the best NBA prospect to come into the league since LeBron James in 2003. If you don't believe me, see for yourself:
Don't get me wrong, the Rockets wound up having a very productive draft night last Thursday, drafting guard Amen Thompson 4th overall and stealing Villanova's Cam Whitmore with the 20th overall selection, but the Rockets would trade five Thompsons and ten Whitmores for a few seasons of Wemby. Indeed, the future is still bright for Houston, but the prayers Fertitta implored us to put forth went unanswered.

The question now, for the average non-Spurs fan, given the generational talent of Wembanyama, is "Do you plan to go out of your way to watch Wembanyama, the way we've all watched LeBron for two decades now?" In seeking to find the temperature of the masses, I went to the epicenter of truth on matters such as this — I posted a Twitter poll!
I have to admit, the results here surprised me a little bit. The message is pretty clear — among the hundreds of people who voted in this particular poll, Wembanyama is not "box office" enough to make watching him a priority, when his games are on television or the League Pass subscription. For just under half the people voting, they went as far as to vote for the Spurs and Wemby being irrelevant.

The one thing that is not captured in a poll like this is how much of the feeling at the extreme ends of the poll is specific to a player like Wembanyama, or if there are some voters who just see the NBA, as a whole, as less relevant on the sporting landscape, although last week's draft, where Wembanyama was the central figure, drew some of the event's biggest ratings in years.

It appears, though, that Rocket fans may have womb fatigue, from all that praying. Garth Brooks once sang "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers," Tell that to Rocket fans, though.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast