San Antonio (dpa) – The basketball world awaits the arrival of the “alien”. When Victor Wimpanyama steps onto the gleaming NBA court for the first time this week, the focus will be entirely on him.
The 19-year-old Frenchman offers an unprecedented combination of size (2.24m), wingspan (2.43m) and impressive agility. Accordingly, Wembanyama is considered the greatest promise since LeBron James, who, entering his 21st season, has had one major goal since his NBA debut in the fall of 2003: to replace Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player in history.
Even James is amazed by the package Wimpanyama has already released ahead of his USA debut. King James said: “I have never seen someone so tall and move so smoothly and elegantly on the field. He is a player like you see every year. I hope he stays healthy, that is the most important thing.” Wembanyama starts his match for the San Antonio Spurs against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday evening (3.30am CET). The super-talent will face James (38 years old) for the first time on December 14.
Four German world champions play in the NBA
Wambanyama’s arrival will trump many other topics such as the excitingly anticipated title race at the start of the 78th season. The four German world champions Dennis Schröder, Franz Wagner, Moritz Wagner and Daniel Theis are also expected to start the season in supporting roles. Although Schröder’s new start with the Toronto Raptors is not only eagerly awaited in Canada, the 30-year-old has forced himself into the public consciousness with a historic coup d’état in Manila.
This also applies to Franz Wagner, who in a poll of journalists and experts was considered the hottest candidate to make the biggest jump in performance. The 22-year-old is entering his third season with the Orlando Magic and is poised to become a star player due to his offensive versatility. “I feel good, it’s fun to play with the boys again. But it’s also very different.” “I played a better game than I played in the summer, so I got used to it again,” said Wagner, who was one of Germany’s key players in their World Cup title win.
Greater media presence in Germany
Just in time for the golden coup, basketball fans in Germany can look forward to a greater media presence once again. ProSieben and ProSieben Maxx will show more than 50 NBA games on TV and via online streaming, starting with the Champions’ Denver Nuggets’ opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday (1.30am/CET). The rights package also includes games from the playoffs and final series. Paid streaming service DAZN offers more than 200 games. Both providers will offer some games in German peak times on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
After years of dominance by the Golden State Warriors, the score is as open as ever. Most recently, there have been five different champions in five years between 2019 and 2023. This year, defending champion Denver is one of the favorites, along with the Lakers with veteran James and the Phoenix Suns with Kevin Durant. The interaction between star player Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, who are entering their first season with the Milwaukee Bucks, is eagerly awaited.
There will also be an NBA Cup competition for the first time this season. The so-called “Championship Season” begins on November 3, and almost all games also count toward the regular season. NBA president Adam Silver also based his innovation on European football. Silver said in press statements: “The origin of the idea was international football and the realization that there is a current tradition, especially outside the United States, where in addition to winning the championship, there are other cups and competitions during the season.” The final will be held on December 9 in Las Vegas.
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