Tennis isn’t the only sporting attraction in Tokyo this weekend. During the 2022 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships Qualifying action is on, the NBA Japan Games are also taking place nearby in Japan.
The Golden State Warriors – the reigning NBA champions – and the Washington Wizards will face off in two preseason games at Saitama Super Arena, with the first duel being played on Friday night in front of over 20,000 fans.
The American spoke to Stephen Curry and demonstrated the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s “night, night” celebration, which he described in a Twitter post as “one of the coldest Cellys I’ve ever seen.”
“I met Steph Curry last night, which was great,” Tiafoe said. “He’s one of my idols. He acknowledges what he saw and says he’s proud of me US Open was pretty special. You never forget something like that.”
Had one of the coldest Cellys I’ve ever seen 🤞🏿🤞🏿🤞🏿 https://t.co/3W3Zw0bu8X
Tiafoe, who supports the Wizards as his local team, was even on the court warming up and providing assists during shooting practice.
“It was really cool, especially coming from DC and playing the Washington Wizards… and they showed love throughout the game,” he added. “I was just messing around with the boys and flipping a few dimes. It’s just fun to be around them. I think it’s good for them too. A little different, a breath of fresh air.”
Tiafoe also plans to take part in the second exhibition match between the two teams on Sunday. The support goes both ways as Wizards star Bradley Beal was spotted in his player box during his run US Open semifinals.
Tiafoe has also used basketball for cross-training, worked out with the Wizards staff for a fun way to work on his fitness, and recently visited the team’s practice facility during the NBA preseason.
Tiafoe also scored in Friday’s game clay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. It was even shown on the arena’s big screen and received a rousing reception.
The American has also been a special guest at a New York Mets game and a Maryland football game since his best run of his career US Open Semifinals – a result he followed with a title-winning performance for Team World Laver Cup.
An established fan favorite on the ATP Tour, Tiafoe is now making its way into the general population.
“I guess you could say I’ve been feeling like a star since the Open, period,” he said, reflecting on what he called “a crazy month and a change.”
“It’s definitely different being at home and seeing how a bunch of people react and New York and of course yesterday,” he added. “But this is where you want to be. That’s why you work hard and just try to inspire a lot of people. But I still have a lot more to give in this game, so I’ll keep going.”
Fourth seeded in the Tokyo singles draw, Tiafoe meets the Japanese wild card Yasutaka Uchiyama in the opening round. The American will also compete in doubles with De Minaur.