Times may be tough on the court right now, but one thing that has never been in doubt about this Spurs team from day one is they see each other as family. That was put on even further display after Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks, when rookie Victor Wembanyama was running late to get to the team bus while saying goodbye to his mother. If one player keeps everyone waiting, he gets in trouble, so several of his teammates banded together to wait for him and not put him on the spot, as detailed in an excellent piece by Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express News:
Late last night inside Madison Square Garden, Victor Wembanyama's teammates decided not to leave him behind. It was a small but telling show of solidarity, and it helped explain why the Spurs don't worry these blowouts will break them.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) November 9, 2023
The team plane, fueled and ready at the airport, waited for the team bus. The team bus, engine idling outside Madison Square Garden, waited for its final passengers. It was late, and getting later, and the last person on the bus was going to be in trouble,
Even if the last person was a 7-foot-3 international sensation.
But only if he was alone.
If seven guys were last, together? Well, the way Devin Vassell figured it, the man in charge couldn’t yell at all of them. Like they say, safety in numbers.
So right there in the hallway by the locker room, Vassell and Keldon Johnson formulated a plan. Jeremy Sochan, Zach Collins, Tre Jones and Charles Bassey all nodded in agreement. On this night, which was already painful enough, the kid was not going to be last.
Not by himself, anyway.
“We don’t want him to be the only one still here,” Johnson said, watching Victor Wembanyama. “He’s saying goodbye to his mom.”
The Spurs, and especially Wemby, are currently in a rough patch they quickly hope to navigate out of, but they can’t do it without each other. While on the court, this team is still very young with plenty of work to do, you also don’t get there without team chemistry and comradery, and these Spurs have it in spades. They care about each other like a family, and I imagine they would have done this for anyone, not just the player they hope will lead them to the promised land.
It’s a heartwarming story, and in a way it reminds me of the Tim Duncan era, when the stalwart of the team always had his teammates backs, and likely vice versa. I imagine that everything the Spurs do for Wemby now will only add to his already impressive level of maturity and leadership and will be returned one day. While watching the mistakes pile up on the court can be hard for fans, just remember they are working hard behind the scenes to build something special, and it all starts with moments like this.