Spurs rookie star Victor Wembanyama sprains ankle during warmups, misses game in Dallas

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San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, center, sits on the bench during the team's NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

DALLAS – San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama missed a game against Dallas on Saturday night because of a sprained right ankle after stepping on a ball boy's foot during warmups.

The 19-year-old sensation from France took a few steps after a shot before he was even in uniform. The ball boy was standing on the baseline near the basket when Wembanyama stepped on him.

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Wembanyama had the ankle retaped in the locker room and wanted to play. Coach Gregg Popovich decided otherwise. The Spurs lost to the Mavericks 144-119.

The nearly 7-foot-4 Wembanyama had sat out two games earlier in Milwaukee with soreness in the same ankle. He would have been on a minutes restriction had he played.

“If it was a playoff game, I probably would have played him,” Popovich said. “He’s not happy about it, but I would rather err on the conservative side since it’s the same ankle that he just got a time limitation on.”

Popovich called it a “freak accident” and said he'd never had a player sidelined before a game that way.

“You see it on film, you can’t believe it,” Popovich said.

Jeremy Sochan scored 23 points to lead the Spurs, who were as close as point late in the first half before getting outscored 72-53 after the break.

“It’s a weird one,” Sochan said. “I agree with Pop. There’s no need to risk something that he kind of hurt before, recently. I’m just happy that he’s good.”

The loss was the 22nd in 23 games for the Spurs, who recently set a franchise record for a losing streak for the second consecutive season with 18 consecutive losses.

Wembanyama is averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds as the No. 1 overall pick. He made his NBA debut at home against the Mavericks in October.


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