Victor Wembanyama heading to Las Vegas as Spurs rookie ‘can’t wait’ for Summer League

There are just some tickets that are hard to get in Las Vegas. Like Adele, for example. Or Garth Brooks. Or U2, which starts a residency there this fall.

And now, add Wemby to that list.

Victor Wembanyama’s debut at NBA Summer League is Friday night — and it’s sold out. All 17,500 tickets that were available for Day 1 of the 11-day series of games on the campus of UNLV were gone by sometime Wednesday, largely because of the debut of the 7-foot-3 rookie who will be playing his first game in a San Antonio Spurs uniform.

"It’s going to be intense," Wembanyama said. "I can’t wait to wear that Spurs jersey for a first time."

The plan, as of now: He’ll play "at least one or two games" in Vegas, Wembanyama said. That means he’ll play Friday against Charlotte (and No. 2 pick Brandon Miller) and likely again Sunday against Portland (and No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson). He’s got appearances to make as well — Wembanyama is one of the headline attractions at the inaugural NBA Con event that starts Friday; he’ll be part of the Saturday unveiling of the new in-season tournament alongside Commissioner Adam Silver, and he’ll have an on-stage conversation with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a session called "Exploring the Evolution of Basketball."

Welcome to the NBA, Wemby. People have been waiting.

Tickets aren’t just gone — this is only the fifth sellout of Summer League in Las Vegas, the NBA said — but they’re also soaring on the secondary resale markets. Vivid Seats, a resale ticket marketplace, said its data shows the average cost of a ticket for Friday was $96; that would top the record of $86 set on opening night in 2019, when Zion Williamson made his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans.

Spurs Summer League coach Matt Nielsen hadn’t heard that Friday was sold out; he was told after San Antonio finished its two-game stay at the California Classic summer league in Sacramento before flying to Las Vegas on Wednesday night.

"It’s probably not the biggest surprise," Nielsen said.

The growth of Summer League in Las Vegas is well-chronicled. The inaugural event in 2004 drew six teams playing a total of 13 games, and it seems as though the spectacle has grown almost annually since. It’s now an unofficial leaguewide meeting for anyone with ties to the NBA; most coaches show up, hundreds of players show up — many will be courtside for Wembanyama’s debut on Friday – and the final days of Summer League this year just happens to coincide with the WNBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas.

"It’s grown tremendously and it’s a bit of basketball magic in a bottle," said Kelly Flatow, the NBA’s executive vice president of global events. "We liken it to three key ingredients — incredible passion of the rookies, free agents that are all working to get a permanent spot on a team, and incredible energy of the fans. It seems so many fans that come back every year that make this a bit of a pilgrimage. And they visit from not just the U.S. but from all over the world."

That seems especially true this year; NBA data shows that 98% of fans who purchased tickets through NBA Experiences for Summer League live outside of Nevada, and 13% live outside the U.S.

Reporting by The Associated Press.