Spurs fans aren’t the sole individuals becoming weary of Victor Wembanyama’s restricted playing time while he recuperates from an ailing ankle. Not surprisingly, Wembanyama shares this sentiment. Although it appeared his night concluded when he was substituted with slightly over three minutes remaining against the Grizzlies, with the Spurs trailing by 16 and having reached his 24-minute limit, he unexpectedly re-entered the game with 1:46 left.
After swiftly executing a dunk, he checked out again just 30 seconds later.
Initially regarded as an unusual but unmemorable incident, it turns out that Wembanyama independently made the decision to return to the game before Gregg Popovich subbed him out. His rationale was grounded in the belief that, despite being down by 11, his team had a chance to stage a comeback amid the Grizzlies’ series of errors, and he wanted to contribute.
While he affirms his trust in the coaching staff and acknowledges the necessity of minutes restrictions, he conveys growing frustration and a readiness for their removal.
These limitations originated in December following Wembanyama rolling his right ankle three times, the most recent instance occurring in Dallas just before Christmas when he inadvertently stepped on a staff member’s foot during shootaround.
Despite displaying vigor and delivering impressive dunks in recent games, Popovich adheres to medical advice. When questioned about Wembanyama’s potential release from restrictions, Popovich reiterated that the limitations persist until the next scheduled imaging of his ankle, whenever that may be.
The emphasis on awaiting additional “pictures” suggests that prior scans may have indicated ligament strain, prompting a cautious approach until clarity is obtained from subsequent scans.
While it’s challenging for a player to sit out when their body signals readiness, Wembanyama’s impromptu return, though risky in terms of discipline, underscores his winning mentality. While NBA victories may not have been as elusive as he anticipated, as he evolves into a leader, it’s hoped that this mindset will permeate to his teammates.
However, the cautionary note remains not to encourage defiance of the coach, as not everyone possesses the star status to escape repercussions.