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Beneath a stack of unopened envelopes Tuesday evening, the fate of the San Antonio Spurs laid on the podium of NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum.

A simple card with a Spurs logo on it sat in a favorable spot: below all 13 of the other lottery teams' cards that would increase the hopes of Spurs fans with each announcement, but Tatum was the only person in the room who knew it.

He showed the logos one-by-one of teams who, had Victor Wembanyama not been up for grabs, would have been excited. Instead, their aspirations of drafting the greatest NBA prospect since LeBron James were cut short.

But San Antonio's aspirations weren't. In fact, they were about to get much bigger. 

Peter J. Holt, sitting at the designated spot his father held more than 20 years prior, watched and listened as he and Spurs eagerly awaited to find out if they would earn the right to take the French giant, and before Tatum could finish announcing the No. 1 pick, Holt was already out of his seat in celebration. 

Like his father, Holt had won the draft lottery on behalf of San Antonio, who hadn't done so since drafting Tim Duncan in 1997, and with his father's photo beside him, Holt could now say he lived up his family's Spurs legacy. 

"I might faint," Holt said immediately after receiving his team's card. "I'm so excited. The city of San Antonio, our fans, we just have so many people that love the Spurs.

"[My father told me] good things happen to good people," he added. "It means a lot to see the picture, and to have it. His energy was definitely here tonight."

So, with the No. 1 pick secured, San Antonio repeated history, and Holt solidified his spot in the Spurs history books, making it Wembanyama's turn to do the same.

"I was looking at everyone," the center said. "Everyone was happy, so I was too ... I'm trying to win a ring ASAP, so be ready."

The 7-4 center has a tall task in front of him, however, as he attempts to bring success back to the Spurs, like the all-time centers that did so before him. But while Wembanyama may have the advantage of a Hall-of-Fame coach in Gregg Popovich, he also faces the disadvantage of modern-day critics.

They will be ready to jump on any sliver of the Frenchman's game that doesn't meet expectations, which isn't surprising, because Wembanyama isn't just chasing one Spurs legacy. 

He's chasing two. 

The Big Fundamental, The Admiral and  ... Wembanyama?

Back in 1987, the Spurs put all of their eggs into the basket of a military-driven center named David Robinson.

Around that time, an 11-year-old Tim Duncan's aspirations of becoming an Olympic swimmer were just forming — the future Hall-of-Famer setting his sights on the 1992 World Olympics — and Wembanyama hadn't been born. 

Robinson's tale is one that resonates with Spurs fans for no other reason than the sheer talent he brought to the court, but his greatness wouldn't begin to be noticed until two years after being drafted to the league. Despite being taken first overall in 1987, Robinson delayed the start of his professional career in order to fulfill an active military service, which led to questions regarding whether or not the Spurs made the right decision in drafting him.

As soon as he came into the league, however, those questions were answered. The Spurs had found a player they could trust, and in a sense, depend on. In just his rookie season, Robinson helped the Spurs to a 50-win season, improving by 35 wins from the year prior — a record that wouldn't be broken for another 10 years. 

But when the time came, it was. 

None other than Duncan himself surpassed "The Admiral", taking the Spurs from 20-62 to 56-26 in the span of one year, though adding back Robinson from injury helped. 

Luckily and unluckily for Wembanyama, the Spurs finished last year with 22 wins, putting it on par with the years that San Antonio had prior to the arrival of Duncan and Robinson, leaving more room for expectation ahead of Victor's rookie season.

"I don’t know what he’s going to be," FS1 Analyst Shannon Sharpe said. "If he’s in between Tim Duncan and David Robinson, well [the Spurs] got [their] franchise piece. If he’s gonna be better than Tim Duncan, that’s five championships, MVP, Finals MVPs, All-Defense ... that’s a lot going on.”

If there's one reason for Wembanyama's unique potential, it's the intrigue surrounding his height. Is he 7-2, 7-3 ... 7-5? 

The center himself answered that question to give analysts a bit of a break from debating how tall he was on an ESPN broadcast.

"So in France we measure [barefoot]," Wembanyama said. I'm 7-3 [barefoot]. I've never actually measured myself with shoes on, but it's got to be like 7-4 or 7-5, I guess."

So if his guess is as good as anyone's, San Antonio is looking to have one of the tallest center's in league history. 

That gives him an edge over both Robinson and Duncan, who stood 7-1 and 6-11, respectively. But Wembanyama also plays the role of a less traditional center for Metropolitans 92, seeming to emulate his game after Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant.

"What he studies with Durant is how he gets his feet underneath him, how his footwork is to launch shots," Windhorst said on an episode of his podcast. "He sees himself trying to play the game more like Kevin Durant."

Wembanyama isn't afraid to handle the ball like a guard at times, which separates him further from Robinson, who mainly lived in the post, or Duncan — who built his career of the low-post bank shot. 

But with an extended range of motion comes a higher risk of injury. 

Duncan never missed more than 20 games in his 19-year career, and Robinson — apart from one lone season that led to Duncan's arrival — didn't either. Both big men proved to be durable over long periods of time, which sets the bar for Wembanyama's reliability in San Antonio. 

For a player of Wembanyama's size wanting to "win a ring ASAP," injuries will have to be rather absent throughout an NBA career, especially early on.

In recent years, two names have stuck out with similar statures as the 19-year-old from France. OKC's Chet Holmgren and Washington's Kristaps Porzingis both entered the league with high expectations, and both have dealt with injuries in their careers.

Holmgren went down with a pre-season foot injury during a Seattle Pro-Am game trying to guard LeBron James on a fast break, which kept the Thunder's big man sidelined for the entirety of last season, while Porzingis has only played 60 games in a season three times of his eight seasons — both concerning instances given the similarities shared by the seven-foot giant. 

Whether it be durability, performance or legacy, Wembanyama has a lot to live up to. Robinson and Duncan brought the Spurs multiple championships, and now, Wembanyama is next in line, looking to do the same. 

The legacy of the Big Fundamental and The Admiral is hard to touch, but if Wembanyama manages to do so, he'll be etching his name among San Antonio's all-time greats by the end of his career.

Wembanyama is French, isn't he?

San Antonio has always been a city built on loyalty, especially when it comes to its NBA team. 

Spurs fans have seen 14 different head coaches, two different arenas and five championships throughout the team's 50-year history, and while many faces have come and go from the roster, the Spurs' brand and identity has remained the same. 

Wembanyama is set to become the newest face of the franchise, fresh off of its 50-year anniversary season, but he isn't the first player of French descent to headline San Antonio's roster.

In fact, he's rather close with two others in particular, both of which helped the Spurs to another championship — Tony Parker and Boris Diaw. 

"There's a special relation[ship] between France and the Spurs because of Tony and also Boris," Wembanyama said. "I know half of the country, if not the whole country wanted the Spurs to have the first pick."

Parker in particular was quick to share his pleasure after hearing the news, taking to social media, where a picture of a young Victor in Parker's jersey went viral.

"So proud of you," the Spurs legend wrote. 

Whether it was meant to be due to Wembanyama's early Spurs fandom or not, the line between him and San Antonio was one that it seemed he was hoping for, especially after Tatum officially announced the Spurs to have the No. 1 pick.

"Not to brag about it, but I knew what was going to happen," he added. "I actually recorded myself saying it this morning walking to practice. The universe told me. Dreams, feelings, it happens sometimes, but it's never wrong. It's always right."

Wembanyama is also close with Diaw as well, as the former Spur is currently the president of the center's current team, Metropolitans 92. Being a former NBA player, Diaw is able to give advice to the young prospect, which has only strengthen their relationship, Spurs linkage aside. 

“I mean, it’s tough for him,” Diaw told the New York Times. “I hope he can actually get away from that and just focus on his career and playing and practicing and having fun, too.”

Both Parker and Diaw spent time as teammates during the San Antonio's 2014 title run, and both also carved their names into Spurs history, much like Duncan and Robinson, leaving an even taller task for the Spurs' soon-to-be tallest center. 

As Wembanyama prepares to begin his NBA journey chasing not one, but two Spurs legacies, he will need to rely on his teammates, coaches and mentors to help him find success, and should he fail, he may be considered the biggest bust of all time. 

But for that, he feels no pressure. 

"It's just basketball," Wembanyama said. "I have no pressure, no fear. I'm trying to have fun every time. You know, people have doubts, but I'm going to prove them wrong."

The 2023 NBA Draft will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on June 22, where the Spurs will officially get their chance to draft Wembanyama, the future of their franchise.

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