Frances Tiafoe Named To NBA All-Star Celebrity Game: ‘This Is Crazy’ | ATP Tour | Tennis

The NBA introduced on Monday that Frances Tiafoe will compete within the 2023 All-Star Celebrity Game, which shall be performed on 17 February in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“It’s awesome, it’s awesome,” Tiafoe informed “Heard the news a little while ago but [it’s] going public now, so I’ve just been trying to gear up for it and get ready. It’s an honour man, it’s an honour.”

Ahead of final yr’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tiafoe attended an exhibition NBA sport between the Golden State Warriors and his hometown Washington Wizards. The American spoke with gamers together with Stephen Curry, however he additionally loved a dialog with NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who talked about there was an opportunity he can be chosen for the superstar sport.

“I was like, ‘Yeah right!’” Tiafoe stated. 

But when he visited the NBA places of work in New York in the course of the offseason, Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed ‘Big Foe’ would get his huge probability on the basketball court docket.

“I still didn’t really know until I got that email, but once I got that email that ‘You’re going to All Star’ I was like, ‘This is crazy!’” Tiafoe recalled. “I feel like it’s a big crossover. A lot of people have taken interest in me, a lot of people are following the game of tennis who usually wouldn’t because, A, the personality I bring out there on court and how I am, and being a person of colour. It’s touching a lot of people and I’m just happy.”

Tiafoe is the second ATP participant to take part within the star-studded occasion, following within the footsteps of Milos Raonic, who dunked in the course of the 2016 sport, during which WTA star Eugenie Bouchard additionally participated. Will Tiafoe match the Canadian’s slam?

“Nah, I can’t dunk. I can’t dunk,” Tiafoe stated, cracking fun. “I started relatively from scratch. Growing up the only thing I really played was tennis. But I started picking it up pretty good. I’ve always had an okay jumper, but [I’ve been] getting the footwork down and stuff. I’m pretty interested to see how it goes.”

Tiafoe has been enjoying basketball for “a couple of hours a day” over the previous two weeks. But he isn’t focussed on scoring a sure variety of factors within the sport.

“I think [I will] just go out there and have fun. I mean I don’t want to look dumb, that’s why I’ve been training the past couple weeks,” Tiafoe stated. “But [it is about] just having fun and obviously All Star [Weekend] everyone is there, you meet so many cool people and people that I’ve been fans of forever. To see they want me there and call me a celebrity, I’m truly blessed and hopefully [it is] the first of many.”

The 2022 US Open semi-finalist has by no means been to an NBA All Star Game, which can make his time in Utah much more particular. He shall be on the staff coached by legend Dwyane Wade and is worked up to mingle with the NBA stars and celebrities he meets.

“The past four or five months since the Open I’ve met a lot of celebrities and became friends with them, but obviously I’m pretty locked in to the hooper community. That’s for sure,” Tiafoe stated. “I know a lot of hoopers. I know some of the rappers like Cordae, and 21 Savage is on my team. But it’s going to be cool.”

It takes only one take a look at Tiafoe’s social media accounts to see he’s a constant presence at basketball video games at each the skilled and school degree, together with ladies’s basketball video games. Through these experiences he has befriended gamers, with one standing out: Wizards star Bradley Beal, who has change into a pal and a mentor.

“Brad Beal talks to me all the time, kind of just [tells me to], ‘Keep going, keep doing your thing, never get satisfied.’ Every time I see him at a game we always link up. He’s been wanting me to go over to the house for a bit but I haven’t because it’s always been bad timing,” Tiafoe stated. “But he’s most likely the closest man I’m [friends with] within the league. Obviously him coming to all these matches on the Open, we’re actually shut, and our relationship acquired me actually near the staff.

“The Wizards team in general, all those guys I’m super cool with. When they’re doing shootaround I’m right next to them on the court. D.C. is definitely my city.”

Perhaps essentially the most memorable second Tiafoe has loved at a Wizards sport was with a member of one other staff: Los Angeles Lakers icon LeBron James. During the offseason, they shared a particular courtside pre-game embrace. It was a significant second for Tiafoe, who has used James’ ‘Silencer’ celebration up to now.

“It was unbelievable. During shootaround I’m standing there and he comes up to me, points to me after he’s done and then comes to me. That was awesome,” Tiafoe stated. “I’m glad someone got that on video. It was awesome. He’s an absolute icon. Obviously he’s another guy I can’t wait to really get a big relationship with.”

Tiafoe will see James once more in Utah. This time he won’t simply be a fan, however a participant within the All-Star Celebrity Game.

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