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June 7, 2023

Unlock the NBA Code: Pronouncing the Names of Basketball's Biggest Stars

Emran Mahbub Emon
Emran Mahbub Emon
Digital Content Creator
min read

As our world becomes more connected, our names have also become increasingly unique. The realm of professional athletes is no exception; they often possess names with distinctive pronunciations, influenced by their origins and specific linguistic structures.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) holds the prestigious title of being the top professional basketball league in the United States. With an enormous global fan base, many aspiring international basketball players dream of gracing the NBA courts. Consequently, NBA player names are now more diverse than ever.

The NBA consists of 30 franchise-owned teams divided into six regional divisions, showcasing superstars from around the world. It is revered as one of the major professional sports leagues in both the United States and Canada. Year after year, the NBA captivates a vast audience, making it one of the most-watched sporting events across all disciplines.

We have curated a list of current NBA superstars who have not only dazzled fans with their on-court performances but have also gained attention on social media due to their distinct names, which many fans find challenging to pronounce correctly.

Superstars of the Atlantic:

In the Atlantic Division, we have Mfiondu Tshimanga Kabengele, a Canadian basketball player representing the Boston Celtics in the central position. Another standout: Yuta Watanabe, a 28-year-old Japanese guard-forward playing for the Brooklyn Nets, impressing fans with his defensive skills and versatility.

Isaiah Hartenstein, a promising 25-year-old German-American forward-center, showcases his talents for the New York Knicks. Representing the Philadelphia 76ers, we have Montrezl Harrell, an American forward-center. And there’s Joe Wieskamp, a 25-year-old American guard-forward, shining for the Toronto Raptors

Yuta Watanabe

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Mfiondu Tshimanga Kabengele

How to pronounce Yuta Watanabe

How to pronounce Isaiah Hartenstein

How to pronounce Montrezl Harrell

How to pronounce Joe Wieskamp

Kings of the Central Division:

Moving on to the Central Division, the Chicago Bulls boast 32-year-old Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic, a center whose name can be quite a tongue twister. His teammate, 33-year-old high-scoring guard-forward Demar Derozan, also presents a name that challenges their fans.

Mamadi Diakite, a remarkable shot-blocking forward, represents the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Eugene Omoruyi, a 26-year-old forward, plays for the Detroit Pistons. Both players' names require careful pronunciation.

The Milwaukee Bucks, home to the renowned Antetokounmpo brothers, Thanasis and Giannis, exhibit exceptional skills and athleticism, but their Greek-Nigerian names are also not the easiest to pronounce.

Giannis himself tells us that there are two possible pronunciations for his name. (At NameShouts, we went with the Greek version).

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic

How to pronounce Demar Derozan

How to pronounce Mamadi Diakite

How to pronounce Thanasis Antetokounmpo

How to pronounce Giannis Antetokounmpo

Icons of the Southeast:

In the Southeast Division, the Atlanta Hawks' promising power forward Onyeka Okongwu, the sixth pick in the 2020 draft, possesses a name that can be quite challenging to pronounce.

On the other hand, Ukrainian player Svi Mykhailiuk, a young guard-forward known for his three-point shooting abilities, represents the Charlotte Hornets.

Onyeka Okongwu

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Onyeka Okongwu

How to pronounce Svi Mykhailiuk

Legends of the Northwest: the Nuggets, Thunder and Jazz.

Shifting our attention to the Northwest Division, we encounter Zeke Nnaji, a 22-year-old forward for the Denver Nuggets, whose name stands out as a pronunciation puzzle.

Luguentz Dort, a Canadian and a fan favorite for the Oklahoma City Thunder, adds to the list with his unique moniker. Additionally, Udoka Azubuike, a Nigerian center-forward playing for the Utah Jazz, joins the ranks of NBA players with names that pose a challenge.

Zeke Nnaji

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Zeke Nnaji

How to pronounce Luguentz Dort

How to pronounce Udoka Azubuike

Champions of the Pacific: the Lakers, Warriors and Kings.

Turning our gaze to the Pacific Division, fans of the Los Angeles Lakers might stumble upon the names of their 29-year-old guard, Shaquille Harrison, and his senior teammate, forward Kawhi Leonard. Both players possess first names that can unknowingly be mispronounced by their supporters.

Meanwhile, Andre Iguodala, a 39-year-old veteran guard-forward for the Golden State Warriors, faced difficulties with his name during his early years in the 2000s. Chimezie Metu, a center and power forward for the Sacramento Kings, carries a typical Nigerian name.

Kawhi Leonard

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Shaquille Harrison

How to pronounce Kawhi Leonard

How to pronounce Andre Iguodala

How to pronounce Chimezie Metu

Stars of the Southwest: the Mavericks, Pelicans, and Spurs.

Finally, in the Southwest Division, we encounter a trio of international basketball players whose names often trip up NBA fans. Frank Ntilikina, a guard from France, represents the Dallas Mavericks, while Jonas Valančiūnas, a 31-year-old Lithuanian center, dons the colors of the New Orleans Pelicans. Lastly, Sandro Mamukelashvili, a versatile forward from Georgia, showcases his skills for the San Antonio Spurs.

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Here are the links to their name pronunciations on NameShouts:

How to pronounce Frank Ntilikina

How to pronounce Jonas Valančiūnas

How to pronounce Sandro Mamukelashvili

Game time!

In conclusion, the NBA's massive global following comes with a challenge - the pronunciation of its players' names. With origins from around the world, these NBA superstars' names can be a linguistic maze. Fans and enthusiasts are encouraged to seek guidance from native speakers or reliable pronunciation resources to accurately pronounce these remarkable players' names. By mastering their names, we can show our respect and appreciation for their incredible talents on the court.

We have collected the list of these names in 1 place. Please feel free to bookmark the list for easy access. Let us know what you think and if we missed anyone.

NameShouts is a free name pronunciation platform and we help individuals and organizations learn how to pronounce names properly. If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch with us at contact@nameshouts.com.

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