How To Spell Some Of Sports Trickiest Names
The wide world of sports brings together people from every race, culture, country and background. There are very few arenas on planet earth that compare.
With this comes the understanding that language, culture and spelling clash. Throughout the sports landscape, there are several names that are often misspelled because they don't follow the societal norm or are simply very foreign to the average American fan.
This is not an all-encompassing list. Most of these are my personal pet peeves or I have some sort of reason to want these players to have the proper respect they deserve. As someone who knows what it feels like when nobody can really remember your name (seriously, everyone always mixes the V names up), I want to make sure you know the importance of getting someone's name spelled right, especially if you claim to be a journalist or expert of any sort.
I now present to you: how to spell some of the trickiest names in sports.
1. Dwyane Wade
This one honestly is the one that bugs me the most. Yes, the most common spelling is "Dwayne" with the "a" before the "y" and yes, there are probably very, very few other people that spell theirs like the Miami Heat star. But c'mon. D-Wade is not your benchwarmer no-name basketball player. The man is a 13-time All-Star and 3-time NBA Champion (the first of which he won four whole years before LeBron James took his talents to South Beach). Even if you don't care about basketball, Wade's become a pop culture figure through his marriage to actress Gabrielle Union and his movement to raise awareness about the importance of fatherhood. So please, let's all remember: "y" before "a" when spelling Dwyane Wade. See, I made a little rhyme for you. You're welcome!
2. Tua Tagovailoa
This guy was one of the highest-touted prospects in this year's NFL Draft. He has rightfully made a name for himself as an elite quarterback and has a very bright future ahead if he can stay healthy. The nation has had a few years to get used to pronouncing — and spelling — Tua Tagovailoa's strong Hawaiian name after he took the Alabama reins from Jalen Hurts in the 2018 National Championship game. Don't worry we won't make you spell out his whole first name.
3. Isiah Thomas
It's an uncommon spelling that doesn't match the Biblical book or any other notable Isaiahs. But Isiah Thomas has made a name for himself as one of the NBA's most-vilified icons and he owns that title without hesitation. The Detroit Pistons Bad Boys rattled the NBA world as they ruthlessly hawked back-to-back championships out of the grasp of the yet-to-be-crowned GOAT, Michael Jordan. The "Isiah" spelling and legacy didn't carry on through the not-as-successful Isaiah Thomas, who's spent a decade in the league bouncing around from team to team. So when you refer to the ultimate Bad Boy, be sure to spell his name right.
4. Dearica Hamby
While Dearica Hamby isn't one of the WNBA players with the most notoriety, you should remember the name because she made that incredible steal and thrilling game-winning shot for the Las Vegas Aces to boost them into the 2019 Semifinals. This wasn't a great WNBA highlight, this was a BASKETBALL moment that will be forever etched into sports history. Since Dearica's name is pronounced like "Erica" it would be easy to forget the "a," but let's all get this one right for the record books.
5. Anaheim Ducks/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Anaheim is a city that doesn't get a lot of love in the sports world as it's kind of the stepchild of Los Angeles and has been delegated to a surname for the Angels. But that doesn't make an excuse for not being able to spell the city that also has a claim to fame as Gwen Stefani's hometown. Yes, the common rule is "i before e except after c," but Anaheim is just one of those exceptions you have to be aware of.
6. Mike Krzyzewski
The illustrious Coach K has one of the hardest names to spell in all of sports. That's why he goes by one letter that isn't even pronounced in Krzyzewski, a name that reflects his Polish heritage. There's still no exceptions for anyone who considers themselves a journalist or expert in any sense. There's always Google for when you forget. And my trick for when I had to spell it (I covered the Miami Hurricanes who are in the same division as the Duke Blue Devils), was to say it how it looks "Ker-zi-zoo-ski." Tricks of the trade, people.
7. Annika Sorenstam
Perhaps the best female golfer of all-time, Annika Sorenstam deserves to be known by anyone who claims to be an all-around sports fan. She has won 10 majors and has had unprecedented performances, including scoring a 59 in a round of golf (the lowest score ever by a woman) and was the first woman in 50+ years to play in a Tour when she participated in the 2003 PGA Tour's Colonial Tournament. A name worth knowing, and how to spell right. If you wanna get jiggy wit it, Sörenstam is the official Swedish spelling.
8. Demaryius Thomas
This one might be the most understandable of the bunch as Demaryius Thomas hasn't exactly established himself as the most memorable of wide receivers. He was exceptionally talented for a great stretch of his career, catching Tim Tebow's iconic touchdown that led the Denver Broncos to a thrilling overtime win in the 2011 playoffs. He also tied with Dez Bryant to become the highest-paid wide receiver in 2015, both garnering $70 million deals. While you might not need to whip out the former Georgia Tech star's name anytime soon, you can remember that "Mary" is in the middle whenever you do put some respek on the name.
9. Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh is nearing the end of his NFL career, but he had some glory days for sure. As a Nebraska Cornhusker, he was the first defensive player to be a Heisman Trophy Finalist in more than a decade. Once he went pro, he made some noise in the league for many reasons — some good, some not so good. His parents, of Cameroonian and Jamaican descent, instilled their pride for their ancestry by gracing their children with Cameroonian names. There hasn't really been a cool nickname for Ndamukong, so just keep it trill and spell the whole thing out.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Ah, young Giannis. The NBA superstar not only has a tough first name to spell, but also a tricky last name as they reflect his home country of Greece and his Nigerian heritage. Gotta give props to Freddie Gibbs who gave us all a little lesson on the "Giannis" song off his critically-acclaimed Bandana album with Madlib. "Real Gs move in silence like Giannis." Step aside, lasagna.