March Madness is reaching a fever pitch as both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments are down to the Final Four. And the NBA playoffs are just around the corner in April.
You can be sure that Frances Tiafoe will be watching it all. The man with the biggest NBA jersey collection on the ATP Tour joined us to talk basketball — one of his biggest passions outside of tennis.
The Maryland native is often in the crowd at Washington Wizards games, but he’s recently started getting on the court with assistant coach Alex McLean. Tiafoe uses their workouts for cross-training and plans to step up the intensity when he gets back home after the Miami Open, with a particular focus on ball-handling.
“I’m trying to get my handle right,” he said. “I want to do a lot of handle work, and I use that for my fitness. When I get back, we’re going to really grind.”
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
When it comes to the NBA, Tiafoe counts LeBron James, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo among his favourite players to watch.
The last time he was in the building for a game was just before Indian Wells. Taking advantage of his time in Southern California, Tiafoe was able to watch James score 56 points to lead the Lakers to a home win against the Golden State Warriors.
The Nomadic Life With… Frances Tiafoe
His prediction for the NBA Finals: The Phoenix Suns complete unfinished business by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, one year after falling just short in the 2021 Finals.
We also asked Tiafoe to pick his ideal starting five from the ATP Tour: “I’d take Reilly [Opelka] as a big. Nick [Kyrgios] can play, [Thanasi] Kokkinakis probably on the wing. Gael [Monfils] probably the four,” he said, pausing to consider his final selection. “Then Tommy Paul. He’s got a decent jumper.”
You might have noticed one glaring omission from that squad — Tiafoe himself.
“I need work,” he said with a laugh. “I’m more of a spot-up, open shooter. My handles need work. But if I’m open, I’m knocking it down.”