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Whether you like it or not, professional sports have become a big business. For NBA players, financial opportunity is everywhere. Between contracts, endorsements, and other licensing deals, it’s easy to make a boatload of money in the blink of an eye. Victor Wembanyama, however, is taking a different course of action.

Although the French phenom could have signed on the dotted line in multiple situations — his future is bright enough for brands to be lining up — his camp has made the intentional choice to turn those offers down. Instead, they’re preferring to play the long game.

And while there’s no way of knowing what the future holds, it seems to have worked out so far.

Victor Wembanyama has intentionally turned down big-time endorsement deals

If you were an NBA fan trying to learn about Victor Wembanyama ahead of the 2023 draft, one detail might have surprised you. Despite his unique blend of size and skill and his obvious potential, the teenager didn’t have any big-time North American endorsement deals under his belt.

While there could have been a business-based explanation for that — maybe the fact that he’s a teenager who was playing in France inspired companies to take their time — it seems like the ultimate decision came from inside Wemby’s camp. They decided that, ahead of Wemby’s arrival in the Association, financials were secondary to playing basketball.

“What we’re trying to do, first of all, is make Victor rare,” Bouna Ndiaye, Wembanyama’s Dallas-based agent, told ESPN‘s Brian Windhost and Jonathan Givony for a February 2023 profile. “We don’t want him all over the place. We don’t want to have 20 partners. That doesn’t make him a known basketball player. Victor says, ‘You want to be the best.’ When you want to be the best, you have to focus on basketball. And Victor is rejecting some rich, million-dollar deals right now because he wants to focus on basketball.”

A similar approach was applied to Wembanyama’s game time as the draft approached. While it would have been easy to shut him down ahead of a multi-million dollar payday, that did not happen.

“Victor, if he doesn’t play basketball, he’s not going to be happy,” Jeremy Medjana, Wembanyama’s veteran Paris-based agent, added. “What makes him happy, it’s to play that game. It’s not about the money; he’s going to make money. He wants to play.”

As the first overall pick, Wembanyama will easily make up for lost time

At the risk of trotting out a cliche, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In Victor Wembanyama’s case, though, playing the long game seems to have paid off.

The Frenchman, of course, made it to the NBA draft without any issues and was snatched up by the San Antonio Spurs. While the contract is yet to be signed, a single stroke of the pen will earn Wemby millions of dollars. It’s then safe to assume that endorsement deals will follow; they should also be worth more money, too, since we’re now talking about someone who’s arrived on the North American scene.

Are things a foregone conclusion? While there’s some security — rookie deals come with some guaranteed money even if hypothetical injuries mean the Spurs won’t want to pick up the big man’s option — it’s unclear what the future holds. Will Wembanyama be a generational talent, capable of earning supermax contracts and starring in commercials for 20 years? Or will he fade into obscurity like other potential stars?

At this point, there’s no way to tell. Thus far, though, Wembanyama’s gamble has paid off.


Victor Wembanyama Could Already Be Worth $500 Million to His Future NBA Employer