When Tiffany Bias was little, all she wanted to be was a professional basketball player from Wichita.
After a standout career at Andover Central, then Oklahoma State, Bias accomplished her dreams by being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury and then winning a WNBA championship in her rookie season.
Only 26, Bias now wants to explore more in life than just a basketball career.
She’s still playing basketball (now for the Thailand National team), but Bias is also pursuing other interests such as modeling, clothing design, and a job as a sideline reporter covering the Dallas Mavericks for D210Sports this season.
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“I just want to be a well-rounded person,” Bias told the Eagle, laughing. “The fashion world is definitely a whole different world and I’ve never done anything like (sideline reporting), but I love challenges. Isn’t that what athletes love? The adrenaline of a good challenge.”
Wichita sports fans should remember Bias from her time at Andover Central, where she led the Jaguars to two state championships, was named the Kansas Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, and won six state titles on the track.
But now she has returned to her hometown for an extended period for the first time since she left for Oklahoma State in 2010. Bias is also giving back to her community, hosting a free basketball camp for boys and girls ages 6-and-up on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Andover Central High School.
“I just know that I would have cherished it if someone like that came back and spoke to me when I was that young,” Bias said. “It’s just really cool to have girls you look up to and watch on TV come to you. I think if you can touch it and feel it, it’s different than watching them on your TV or your phone.
“I just want to let them know that they can do anything they want and be anyone they want. Sports doesn’t end anything. They can be a doctor or a lawyer or whatever they want to do.”
Those are words of advice that Bias has embraced in her own life.
She has always been interested in fashion and has doodled in notebooks for years random designs that have come to her. Instead of continuing to mindlessly doodle, Bias acted on her long-time desires and is now ready to launch her own clothing line and has already designed several jackets.
“I think when I first got into the WNBA, I was so focused on basketball, and that was it,” Bias said. “Now I’m a little older, a little more mature. Now it’s like, ‘Well, let me see what else is out there outside of just basketball.’ I’m finally getting to that point, but it took me a few years to figure that out.”
When asked where she might be five years from now, Bias said she definitely wanted to be in the fashion world.
But she’s always intrigued by her upcoming assignment as a sideline reporter for the Mavericks. She may have been too scared to try a job she had no experience in three years ago, but now Bias welcomes the challenge.
“Everyone so far has told me I’m a natural at it,” Bias said. “I definitely want to see if it’s something I really want to do. So far it’s been a lot of fun, and I really like it.”
Bias says she misses the camaraderie with her teammates in the WNBA. She was drafted into the league with stars like Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner.
If she could go back, Bias wouldn’t hesitate to return to the game’s highest level. But in the meantime, she credits her two seasons in Phoenix for her personal growth.
“To have played with someone (like Taurasi) you grew up watching play was crazy,” Bias said. “She took me under her wing right away, and I learned so much through her. That time in Phoenix was priceless, and I was so fortunate to go into that situation at that age.”
Bias stands with her former colleagues in their battle to increase their wages. A study by CNBC showed that the highest salary in the WNBA ($110,000) is just 20 percent of a lowest starting salary in the NBA ($560,000).
“I think the NBA is doing a better job of broadcasting the WNBA and opening more doors for people to see what women’s basketball is all about, but we still have a long ways to go,” Bias said. “This is the best basketball in the world. If you like basketball, then you should love women’s basketball, and if you don’t then it’s really you just like people dunking. That’s how I view it.”
After bouncing around playing professionally overseas, Bias has found a new passion: the Thailand national team.
Bias’ mother’s side of the family is originally from Thailand, and Tiffany now owns dual citizenship after a six-month process. After her grandmother, Chanhom, who was from Thailand, died recently, Bias said it became more important to her to honor her grandmother.
Now she will try to help Thailand, ranked No. 52 in the world, qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Bias does love a challenge, after all.
“It was always that other part of my culture that I never really dug into like I wanted to,” Bias said. “But being over there they accepted me with open arms, and it’s been really fun. There’s a language barrier and the skill gap is pretty big, so I just have to do my best teaching them different fundamental things. But I love it, and it’s very sentimental to me.”
Bias said the experience has reminded her of a lesson from her days at Andover Central with coach Stana Jefferson.
Whatever new challenges Bias takes on in the future, she knows Jefferson’s words can still apply.
“Coach Jefferson was the one who taught me that you have to have fun,” Bias said. “If you’re not having fun playing the game, then there’s not really a point in playing. That’s always rung true to me.”