Wembanyama must 'remember to be a kid' as Drummond offers advice to new NBA star

By Sports Desk October 24, 2023

New upcoming NBA star Victor Wembanyama must "remember to be a kid" as expectations grow on the San Antonio Spurs' 19-year-old, who has already been likened to LeBron James.

That was the message from the Chicago Bulls' Andre Drummond, who is well qualified to offer such advice given he has his eyes on a significant milestone of his own.

Drummond is just 37 boards away from reaching 10,000 rebounds in his impressive NBA career, having initially started at the Detroit Pistons with expectations on his shoulders, too.

The Bulls' 30-year-old has been in basketball long enough – and from a similar young age as well – to feel capable of offering advice to the exciting Wembanyama.

The Chicago center told Stats Perform: "For Victor, if I had to give him some advice, I would always tell him to just remember to be a kid.

"I feel like that is something that I didn't take advantage of coming in at 18 years old.

"I feel like I'd stepped into this realm of basketball and like, instantly became a man.

"I had to do everything as a man when I still had my mom and my sister, I still had a family base too, and I think that's the best thing I did do, was bring them out.

"I was so focused on, 'Alright, how do I fit in?' So, I will just tell him to always be himself."

Drummond was rated as the number-one pick of the 2011 class by ESPN after featuring in a gold-medal winning United States team at the Under-17 World Championship.

Having experienced similar pressures in his early career, Drummond sees aspects of his own challenges in Wembanyama.

"Similar to him, I came in and played right away," Drummond added. "I had to figure it out on the fly.

"I was going to a team that was rebuilding and a lot of pressure was on me too, along with him.

"He has a lot of pressure on his back too, because now they're looking at him to be the guy to bring the Spurs back to the calibre that they were.

"For me coming into Detroit, it was like 'well, you have to bring us back to the playoffs, you got to bring us to being a contending team' because all they know in Detroit is winning, they are a blue-collar city.

"So similar stories, different guys. We're all going on the same path at the end of the day, we want to win a championship and we want to be the best we can be."

While likening his experiences to what Wembanyama will face, over a decade on from his NBA introduction Drummond now has milestones in his sights.

"Being 37 away from 10,000 rebounds," he continued, "it puts a lot of perspective for myself and just for the public because I always tell everybody, I feel like I'm the best ever to do it, [regardless of] me having, or about to have 10,000 rebounds.

"I think just my body of work and my percentages and numbers help prove that and honestly, for me it just shows the amount of work I put in.

"Every year I set a goal to be the best rebounder each and every season and to have the honour of reaching 10,000, not too many people have the chance to do that. I am with a group of high-calibre guys."

While delighted to feature in a group that includes the likes of legends Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, which Drummond labelled as "truly an honour", the Bulls star wants to use his experience to help teammates now.

"For myself this year, it's just, I think it's everything away from basketball, I feel like it's just staying with it, controlling things that I could control," he said.

"Focusing on the things that matter, being a good team-mate, being there for the guys, playing hard each and every time I'm out there.

"In practice, pushing our starters to be better each and every day, being a vocal leader. I feel like that's something that I lacked last year, not using my voice for someone who's been around for 12 years now.

"I feel like I should have spoken more and said a lot more to our younger guys, so I think just being that vet that everybody sees me as I'm really showing it."

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