Exclusive: Spurs Rookie Victor Wembanyama's 1st 'Big Purchase' Was Fitting, Yet Unexpected

The night before he was selected No. 1 overall to the San Antonio Spurs, Victor Wembanyama sat with guests at a dinner and revealed what his plans were for his first major purchase as an NBA star.
Apr 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) warms up before a game.
Apr 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) warms up before a game. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN ANTONIO — Victor Wembanyama forgot what a churro was when he was first asked.

After leading the San Antonio Spurs to a comeback victory on Halloween — notching the first of what would become three wins over the Phoenix Suns on the season — the 7-foot-4 rookie, fresh off of an 18-point, four-block performance, sat courtside with a headset on. His interviewer?

Charles Barkley, the notoriously-goofy big man on TNT's postgame show.

"Victor!" Barkley shouted over Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. "Victor! I've got one final question: How do you say 'churro' in French?"

Wembanyama instantly furrowed his brow. "Churro?" he asked. Barkley and the others went on to describe — the best they could, at least — what it was. "It's a dessert. A long donut."

Wembanyama never understood what they meant by it, but quickly asked the people of San Antonio to "put him on" the food item in hopes of trying it and becoming more cultured than he already was.

The next time he was in front of local media, however, he clarified.

"I know what churros are. I just forgot the word."

Oct 31, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) guards San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama (1).
Oct 31, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) guards San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama (1). / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports

Wembanyama was just getting used to Barkley's interviews. He was also getting used to American culture, and more specifically, San Antonio's culture. His churro incident was just one example, though if there was one thing he entered the league already passionate about, it was Star Wars.

Just a few days before the French phenom was selected by San Antonio with the No. 1 overall pick, he sat down on "The Old Man and the Three" podcast with J.J. Redick and Tommy Alter. He spoke on his personal principles, his excitement for his rookie season and lots more.

The popular sci-fi franchise was one such topic. Here's what he had to say:

It didn't take long for Wembanyama to discard the sequels — a three-film installment to the franchise that left many fans up in arms about the direction it had taken — and name "Revenge of the Sith" as his favorite movie, but as it turned out, his love for the Star Wars universe went beyond the movies.

The night before the NBA Draft, Wembanyama went to dinner with some lucky fans, who had gone through NBA Experiences for the chance to sit with him and talk to him before he was set to be the league's biggest spectacle for 82 straight games.

As he sat around, he answered questions, told stories and let others learn more about him, rather than his game. That was easily one of his best qualities, as Vice President of NBA Experiences Evan Bruno put it.

"So, this is the night before he's essentially going No. 1 overall to the Spurs," Bruno told Inside The Spurs. "The one ... connection point he made with everybody sitting in that room was that he was relatable. His persona off-the-court ... (has) been nothing short of amazing. He is, in every sense of the word, a superstar."

As Wembanyama talked, people listened. And once again, the topic of his favorite movie franchise came up. Except this time, it was Wembanyama who brought it up.

"You're about to make a lot of money," one guest in the crowd asked, referring to Wembanyama's expected multi-million-dollar rookie contract. "What is the first thing you're going to buy?"

His answer? The Millennium Falcon LEGO set. Item No. 75192.

The set — one of LEGO's crown jewels that almost every Star Wars fan has wanted at some point or another — just wasn't a smart purchase for anyone without money to spend and a huge passion. For the average LEGO fan, it was just a dream. But it was a dream-no-longer for Wembanyama.

"I thought to myself, 'Wow. The Millennium?'" Bruno said. "I mean ... then you realize, he's just a kid. You realize that at the end of the day, he's a kid at heart."

Most rookies bought new jewelry or multiple sports cars before even thinking about something like a LEGO set, which made just another one of Wembanyama's peculiarities.

The rookie made it his goal to be good at every aspect of his job, including media availabilities; go to bed at 9 p.m. every day, at which point Spurs staffers were instructed to not try and reach him; and even abstain from "distractions" like drugs and alcohol — the allure of which he claims he feels "immune" to.

All of those things are what makes Wembanyama, Wembanyama. He's a 20-year-old budding superstar with all of the talent in the world. He's a fan of Star Wars, breakfast tacos and LEGOs.

And he's a likable persona off-the-court who has many more years to grow.

"He's a really down-to-Earth, humble kid who wants success and has seen success early," Bruno said. "For him to come into the league and not only live up to the hype, but exceed the hype has been incredible. He's he's been nothing short of spectacular as a superstar both on and off-the-court."


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Matt Guzman

MATT GUZMAN

Matt Guzman is a sports journalist and storyteller from Austin, Texas. He serves as a credentialed reporter and site manager for San Antonio Spurs On SI and a staff writer for multiple collegiate sites in the same network. In the world of professional sports, he is a firm believer that athletes are people, too, and intends to tell stories of players and teams’ true, behind-the-scenes character that otherwise would not be seen through strong narrative writing, hooking ledes and passionate words.