Leave it to a Frenchman to ruin all the fun.
All joking aside, NBA No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft and native son of France, Victor Wembanyama, chose some curious words to describe a city that many have pegged to be a future destination for an NBA franchise.
Speaking to reporters after Wembanyama and his woeful San Antonio Spurs (currently 5-26, and yet somehow not the worst record in the league) dropped a road game to the slightly less woeful Portland Trailblazers (9-22) 134-128.
Portland’s own prized rookie, Scoot Henderson, had himself a marvelous game in the win, notching 22 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds, and Wembanyama, who missed the game due to injury, was asked about his draft classmate by reporters after the game.
Wembanyama had mostly warm and positive thoughts about that Summer League clash with Henderson (an 85-80 win for the Blazers on July 9) … except for the setting.
The NBA hosts its annual Summer League, typically a showcase for rookies and players hoping to make the ends of benches on NBA teams, in Las Vegas, and Wembanyama showed a wisdom beyond his years when he described Sin City.
You can watch his viral response below:
“With your first experience in Vegas — what did you think?”
“On earth, it’s probably the closest thing to a dystopia.” – Victor Wembanyama 😂 pic.twitter.com/PoJRveKG3w
— Evan Abrams (@EvanHAbrams) December 29, 2023
That particular X post has already amassed over 15,000 likes as of Saturday afternoon, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the relatively earnest and down-to-earth response from Wembanyama about his Vegas experience.
“As your first experience with Vegas, too, what did you think of the lights and the weather?” asked a reporter in the post-game conference.
“I mean, to me, it’s … probably on Earth, it’s probably the closest thing to a dystopia,” Wembanyama said.
The 7-foot-4 19-year-old added: “I’m not the biggest fan of Vegas.”
“I agree,” the reporter said.
Wembanyama and that reporter may not be the biggest fans of Las Vegas, but you know who is? The NBA, given that one of the worst-kept secrets in sports currently is that the league wants expansion teams in Las Vegas and Seattle.
Nothing official has been announced, but the NBA will very likely expand into Las Vegas and Seattle in the near future.
And, as surely Wembanyama has done, it’s fair to question the wisdom in such a strong desire to bring a franchise to a place literally nicknamed after sin (not that Seattle is much better).
As the teenage phenom so eloquently put it, Las Vegas really is a “dystopia.”
From the obvious promotion of sin, to the overall lack of humanity, to the dystopian glimpse at the technological future this city represents, there really is a case to be made that Las Vegas is just not a good place.
Travel five minutes outside the lavish lights, bells, and whistles of the strip, and you enter some rather morose and decrepit places overrun with drugs and homelessness problems.
There’s a very strong case to be made that it’s a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah given the literally legal prostitution and rampant gambling that’s not just allowed there, but promoted as a reason to visit.
Sadly, the marriage of sports and Las Vegas seems all but inevitable given the NFL’s current presence there with the Las Vegas Raiders, and MLB’s near presence there with the soon-to-be Las Vegas Athletics.
That all being said, sports leagues do need to ask themselves: How can we promote our content to kids and teens (which sports always does) while fielding teams in a place that most parents wouldn’t feel comfortable walking the streets with their children in broad daylight?
It’s a question the leagues may not be able to answer.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.