Lakers’ Darvin Ham Reveals What He Told Gregg Popovich About Victor Wembanyama

Lakers star LeBron James against Victor Wembanyama

Getty Victor Wembanyama #1 of the San Antonio Spurs blocks a shot by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers got back on the winning track, beating San Antonio 123-118 on Friday, February 23, but not after Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama put on a show.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham was impressed with Wembanyama’s historic “5×5” statistical performance against them.

“As far as Wemby (Wembanyama),” Ham told reporters, “I just told Pop (Popovich) after the game, ‘Man the kid! The thing that impresses me the most about him is he’s uber-talented, multi-faceted highly skilled but I think his biggest trait and quality that you can’t teach or coach is his competitive nature.’

He’s a competitive kid and he makes winning plays all the time. You see how he plays with his teammates. He’s trying to make the right play whether it’s for himself or for the others that’s out there with him. And defensively — chasing down shots, changing shots, blocking shots, coming up with strong rebounds. But again those two intangibles — the ability to stay that competitive possession by possession and also make winning plays.”

The 20-year-old Wembanyama finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in his first visit to the Lakers’ home court. The French rookie sensation laced up his double-double with five blocked shots and five steals as he became the youngest player in NBA history to record at least five points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals in one game.

Wembanyama also joined Michael Jordan as the only players to get at least five steals and five blocks in consecutive games.

LeBron James Calls Victor Wembanyama ‘Special’

Lakers superstar LeBron James, like Ham, was also in awe of Wembanyama’s play at this early stage of his career.

“That kid is SPECIAL,” James posted on X, formerly Twitter, following their second matchup of the season.

“He doesn’t have a ceiling, he can do whatever he wants to do with his career,” James told reporters after the game. “He seems like he enjoys the game and seems like he puts the work [in], just from the outside looking in. Obviously, I’m not with him on a day-to-day basis. But I said it a long time ago how special he was, and it’s literally that simple.”

James returned to the Lakers lineup after missing the last two games with left ankle issues. At 39, 19 years senior of Wembanyama, James showed he’s still the top dog as he scored a game-high 30 points to pace the Lakers. James added nine assists and seven rebounds in his first game since his historic 20th NBA All-Star appearance.

Lakers Keep Lead Over Warriors

Despite the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama’s towering presence and historic performance, the Lakers were not to be denied. They pulled away at the start of the fourth quarter and then fended off the Spurs’ last-ditch rally.

The win allowed the Lakers (31-27) to maintain their half-game lead over the surging Golden State Warriors (29-26), who routed the Charlotte Hornets 97-84 also on Friday, for the ninth seed in the West.

Anthony Davis, who lost his voice before the Lakers’ road loss against the Warriors on Thursday, February 22, in their first game after the All-Star break, produced 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Davis sat out the entire fourth quarter of the second game in a back-to-back schedule.