Nick Kyrgios has said that he prefers basketball to tennis. Actions, however, speak louder than words. And so Kyrgios went out and acted on his preference by bailing on a contract with a tennis tournament so he could play hoops instead.

Two days after Kyrgios received an eight-week suspension from the ATP for tanking a match at the Shanghai Masters, it was reported that the Aussie withdrew from next February’s Rotterdam Open in order to accept an invitation from the National Basketball Association for its All-Star Celebrity Game.

Words can still be strong, though, as Kyrgios has demonstrated in the past and Rotterdam tournament director Richard Krajicek made clear today.

“Kyrgios prefers his passion beyond his profession,” Krajicek told the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting.

With the Kyrgios side “intimating that he would rather play in the basketball match,” according to the *Daily Mail*, Krajicek felt a duty to his tournament to release the 21-year-old from their deal.

“You see what can happens when he is tired and [tennis] has little meaning, as in China,” Krajicek said of Kyrgios. “We do not want that. So we decided to terminate his contract. We want a top tennis player seen on the court.”


The action can be seen in a positive light, as there’s now no risk of fans or the tournament not getting their money’s worth, a widespread criticism of Kyrgios’ antics in Shanghai. Kyrgios clearly prioritizes this opportunity with the NBA more than the event in Rotterdam, and establishing that now benefits both parties. Tournament directors are often scrambling for replacements when big-name players withdraw at the last minute; Krajicek will have time to secure a suitable replacement.

But it strikes me the other way, as a stain on Kyrgios not as a tennis player, but as a professional. Kyrgios has acted contrite since the suspension—whether you believe his statements or not is another story—and generating some goodwill certainly wouldn’t hurt his cause. He had an agreement with the Rotterdam tournament, one of the first events he was scheduled to play upon his return, but backed out on it to play another sport. Many felt that tennis suffered last week when Kyrgios didn’t give his best effort on the court. But when basketball is unequivocally put ahead of tennis by the 14th-ranked player in the world, it makes the sport look even worse.

Kyrgios is who he is, and the only person who will change that, if he even wants to, is Kyrgios. His actions in Shanghai affected only himself. But this action affects the perception of the entire sport. He has spoken loud and clear.