Monday Notebook: Why Is Wembanyama Playing?, Aaron Gordon's Ring?


Photo: Getty Images

We reached the moment in college football where players opt out of major, non-playoff, bowl games. Some choose to pass on the game to stay healthy for the NFL Draft and others choose to skip the game to stay fit entering the transfer portal. But what if I told you a consensus number one overall pick had every reason to sit out but insisted he wanted to play despite looking at a rookie contract and endorsements projected north of $50M. That is what Victor Wembanyama is doing.

The NBA Draft is next Thursday (June 22) and what is known is that the San Antonio Spurs are drafting the 7-foot-5 "once in a lifetime" player who every basketball person agrees is the next "can't miss" star. Instead of doing the interview circuit in the United States and posing for sponsors in his new portfolio of partners, Vic has chosen to continue to play for his team in France as they compete for a league title. Wembanyama was held to just eight points and seven rebounds as his team lost game one of a best-of-five finals. Game two of the series is tonight and if the series goes the distance, he would finish two days before the NBA Draft. But he wants to play and help his team win. I am not saying this commitment means he is going to be one of the five best to ever play in the NBA but it says something that Wembanyama is not touring the US smiling for the camera but wants to be there with his team.

These days we have players projected to go between 10-20 in the draft who are not working out for teams and this guy is playing right up to the night his life forever changes.

Unlike the NBA, Wembanyama's season has not been 80+ games and then a grueling two month playoff run. He has played in 42 games this season for his team in France. He may be tired of all the attention and his stats show it. In his last 14 games he is 8-for-48 from the three point line. He has been held in 20 in his last six games. No one thinks this is a red flag and most basketball people are shocked he is still playing instead of preparing for the draft and the quick turnaround to play in the summer league. Wembanyama says he is ready for the summer to continue and looks forward to next week's draft and reporting to San Antonio before his NBA debut in summer ball. 

The kid is special and if he played for Duke or Kansas the hype would be even bigger. But he's doing something you just don't see players in his position do and I applaud him for trying to help his team win a title while a life changing moment is just days away...

When the Orlando Magic drafted Aaron Gordon as the fourth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, they viewed the raw 19-year old as a star of the future. But he was drafted by a team coming off a 23 win season still in the early stages of their massive rebuild and Gordon was not ready to lead a team and he averaged five and nine points per game in his first two seasons. But the losses mounted and Gordon often became the target of fan frustration. Gordon might be the best example of a talented player who will never be an alpha and lead a team but in the right situation can be a perfect role player. So after seven seasons in Orlando, the Magic dealt Gordon to Denver in 2021. In his two-plus seasons, he has been a very productive player playing alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Now, and not yet 28, Gordon is one win from an NBA title. He has two years , plus a player option, remaining on his contract and suddenly Aaron Gordon is prime to win a ring and stay in contention for more jewelry in the coming years...

Nuggets: Stanford pitcher Quinn Mathews tossed a 156 pitch complete game as the Cardinal evened their Super Regional series with Texas with an 8-3 win. Mathews struck out 16 and pitched over 100 pitches for the 15th time this season. In the last 10 days Mathews has tossed 20 innings and thrown 336 pitches. Pitch count freaks will tell you this is damaging to the player. Bob Gibson called this a regular week when he pitched...Nic Taylor's 72-foot putt to win the Canadian Open was awesome. Canada can't win the Stanley Cup but one of their own has finally won their national tournament...US Open is this week and held in Los Angeles. Not the west coast location means NBC will have prime time coverage all tournament with Saturday's coverage going to 11p and Sunday 10p...The Yankees stink...Finally, if you have two different BOGO items and therefore bring 12 items to the express lane, is that an express lane violation?

Final note: Vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor in the United States. Chocolate, Cookies-n-Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough round out the top five.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content