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Victor Wembanyama’s big debut couldn’t come at a better time

Not only is he ready to play basketball, but he needs to give the tabloids something different to talk about.

San Antonio Spurs Summer League Practice Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Victor Wembanyama may be the biggest thing to hit NBA Summer League since — ever. For what is reportedly just the fifth time ever, tickets have sold out for a Summer League game, with secondary sales for the 17,500-seat Thomas & Mack Center going at record prices.

Tickets aren’t just gone — this is only the fifth sellout of Summer League in Las Vegas, the NBA said — but they’re also soaring on the secondary resale markets. Vivid Seats, a resale ticket marketplace, said its data shows the average cost of a ticket for Friday was $106; that would top its Summer League record of $86 set on opening night in 2019, when Zion Williamson made his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Another ticket reseller, Gametime, told TMZ their resale prices are even higher, beginning at $186 and topping out at $617. Not that the city of Las Vegas needs any help attracting tourists, but it’s probably relatively rare for the Summer League bring such a huge boost all on its own. They can thank Wemby for that.

From a basketball standpoint, the timing of his debut couldn’t be better. Not only is he excited to put on a Spurs uniform and show anyone in the basketball world who didn’t followed him in France what his game is all about, but he has only been in America for 18 days and has already been subjected to the scrutiny of celebrity life. For anyone who has been living under a rock for the last 24 hours, here’s a quick recap of everything that has been going on.

Singer/songwriter Britany Spears released a statement saying she approached Wemby at Catch restaurant at the ARIA Hotel in Las Vegas and tapped him on the shoulder in hopes of getting a picture, where she alleges she was assaulted via a slap in the face by Spurs director of security Damian Smith and was filing a police report. Video surveillance revealed Smith did not slap her, but instead pushed her hand away with an unknown level of force, resulting in her own hand hitting her face. Police determined that no criminal activity took place and dropped the case.

Of course, with Wemby being America’s newest big celebrity, he was asked about the incident at practice and gave his side of the story, saying he had been told not to engage with fans in Vegas, and while he heard someone trying to get his attention, he kept walking as instructed. However, where his version differs is he says he was grabbed from behind, not tapped on the shoulder (reminder: he’s 7’3” while Spears is 5’4”), and all he knew was security pushed that person away, but he never looked back to see who it was. He only learned it was Spears through the news several hours later.

So, yeah, welcome to America, Wemby. The good news is this won’t be an issue for him in San Antonio. Fans know how to properly approach Spurs when they see them in public, and he has already shown he enjoys the engagement. He has also proven himself to be very mature and level-headed for a 19-year-old, so I’m sure this entire ordeal won’t be a distraction for him when he steps foot on the court. However, it’s still unfortunate and is creating a debate over who is at fault and whether or not the Spurs’ PR department is hurting themselves by not releasing their own statement (and after what happened with Josh Primo less than a year ago, now is not a good time for bad PR).

With all that has been going on, today couldn’t be a better day for Wemby to make his NBA debut. Not only is he ready to set the basketball world on fire and get Spurs fans even more excited for next season, but he needs to give the tabloids something different to cover. The best way he can do that is walk onto the floor, help the Spurs continue their torrid hot streak that started in Sacramento, and show the rest of the NBA what he will bring to the league, beginning against the second overall pick in Brandon Miller and Charlotte tonight.

Tipoff will be at 8:00 PM CT on ESPN, so get excited, Spurs fans!