NBA Players Who Speak Multiple Languages
The NBA or National Basketball Association is one of the world’s most competitive and professional basketball leagues that features basketball players from across the world. Since it’s a world-class league, it only attracts players who are extremely talented and have excellent skills in basketball. The skill, athleticism, and charisma NBA players display are revered by amateurs and youngsters around the globe. And sports super fans hail these NBA players as celebrities.
NBA players mostly have remarkable personal stories of dedication, hard work, and perseverance which often inspire young individuals to pursue their aspirations in life. As NBA players come from various backgrounds and achieve success after overcoming many challenges, it could be motivating for young adults how talent and determination can be key to success.
However, it’s a dark secret that a lot of these players are considered illiterate majorly because they quit their higher education to pursue a career in Basketball.
On the contrary, this narrative does not apply to all NBA players.
Table of Content
- Multilingual NBA Players
- NBA Players Speaking Spanish
- NBA Players Speaking French
- Does Shaq Know Chinese?
- Does Lebron Speak Spanish?
Multilingual NBA Players
Some NBA players can speak multiple languages. Let’s take a look at some of the NBA players that are multilingual.
1. Dikembe Mutombo
Former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo speaks multiple languages. His journey began when he started studying multiple languages at school in Kinshasa before arriving in the USA. He said in an interview once that in order to talk to his Angolan neighbors whilst they played soccer together, he picked up Portuguese as a child.
With dual degrees in Linguistics and Diplomacy, Dikembe graduated from Georgetown University. Becoming the first Youth Emissary for the United Nations Development Program, he put his qualifications to good use through his humanitarian work. Moreover, he endeavored to improve health, education, and quality of life for those in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, by creating the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1977.
Currently, he is learning both Chinese and Japanese as he is a firm believer that language allows you to travel the world. On top of that, he is already a fluent speaker of English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Lingala, and Luba-Kasai.
2. Kobe Bryant
One of the most talented players to ever grace a basketball court was Kobe Bryant. Bryant earned himself a wealth of accolades; from being an 18-time All-star to ranking fourth in the NBA’s all-time regular scoring, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe Bryant knew how to converse in Spanish, English, and Italian. When he was six, he moved to Italy with his family because his father was a professional basketball player. There he became fluent in Italian, for over 8 years.
Moreover, during that course, he also familiarizes himself with the Spanish language. With marriage to his wife Vanessa, a Mexican-American, Kobe Bryant’s Spanish was further reinforced. He claimed to have watched a lot of Spanish telenovelas because he wanted to connect with his Latino fans. This helped him increase his fluency in Spanish.
From his teammates, Kobe Bryant picked up some Serbian and French also. When a reporter asked his reasons for learning these languages, he said that he used these languages as a medium to let out his frustrations at officials by cursing in another language.
3. Luka Doncic
On the court, Luka Doncic has established himself as a force to be reckoned with. First in Spain and then in the U.S., Doncic is only 20 years old but already has had a long career. Doncic speaks several languages, as with the other international players who join the NBA. Hence, in both US and Mexico, being bilingual has made him a fan favorite.
Doncic’s first language is Slovenian as he was born and raised in Slovenia, a country on the northeast Adriatic coast. Italian and Hungarian are co-official languages, while Slovenian is the main language in the country. Moreover, Croatian, Serbian, and German is also spoken there. The largest capital city is Ljubljana, and that is where Doncic is from.
During his teenage years, Luka Doncic also played for the Real Madrid youth team. During his time in Real Madrid, he learned to converse in Spanish. As a result, he has become a favorite in Mexico and Texas.
Doncic’s family has a Serbian heritage from the Kosovo region, hence, some sources also include that Serbian is another language that Doncic speaks.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal is one of the biggest and most popular basketball players in the world. With a staggering height of over 7 feet and a weight of 325 pounds, Shaq appears to be a human giant with a ferocious competitive spirit, however, he has one of the most charismatic personalities in the entire NBA roster.
Moreover, from a very young age, his mother instilled in him the value of education, and how it is imperative in today’s global age to speak different languages. He listened to his mother and took the initiative to learn multiple languages.
Besides speaking English, Shaq is also fluent in Spanish, Chinese, Greek, and Serbian. He is one of the few NBA players who can speak more than 2 languages. Although Shaq has a net worth of over $350 million, he still takes out time to focus on education.
As far as so, he has a Ph.D. in education from Barry University. He even told his kids that if they wanted a share in his inheritance, they needed to at least have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. As he famously said in an interview with Ellen Degeneres, “ I told my kids; You need 2 degrees to have any of my Cheese”.
5. Manu Ginóbili – Argentina
Manu Ginóbili is a retired NBA player. He was from Argentina. He is praised worldwide for his astonishing skills as a shooting guard. But there’s more to his personality. He also got famous due to his remarkable ability to speak more than one language. The retired NBA player is fluent in languages such as Spanish, English, and Italian. He used these languages to effectively communicate with his fellow teammates, as well as coaches and fans not just in Argentina but also in other Spanish-speaking nations. He was equally good at communicating with his fans, coaches, and teammates who were English-speaking. During his time playing in the Italian basketball league, Ginóbili also expressed his linguistic abilities by learning Italian.
NBA Players Speaking Spanish
The ethnic identity that originally came from Spain was Hispanic. Mostly they are white, but a Hispanic can be of any race. Some are Oriental and some are racially black.
Most of the Spanish-speaking athletes or NBA players are short, hence were never considered great basketball players. However, there are some NBA players who speak fluent Spanish, majorly due to the fact that they originally belong to a Hispanic community.
1. Carlos Delfino
With a little bit of Italian heritage, Carlos is originally from Argentina. Weighing over 230 pounds, Delfino is 6’6 with an impeccable record. Currently, he plays for the Bucks and is averaging 1.6 steals, 3.9 rebounds, and 12.9 points in NBA games.
2. Tiago Splitter
Tiago Splitter is one talented basketball player. He is considered by many reporters as a freak of nature, due to the fact that he weighs over 240 pounds and reaches a height of 6’11”. Originally, he is from Brazil, hence speaks fluent Spanish. Moreover, he is also fluent in English and Portuguese. Currently, he plays for the Spurs in the NBA and is averaging about 2.2 rebounds and 4.2 points per game, which is considered to be the season’s lowest score.
3. Anderson Varejao
Latino players are technically Portuguese. Brazil was created by the Portuguese, and that is where Varejao is from. Like most Portuguese, he speaks Spanish, and before entering the NBA, he used to play for several Barcelona teams. Currently, he is playing for the Cavaliers and is averaging about 1.2 blocks, 9.6 rebounds, and 9.4 points per game.
4. Brook Lopez
North Hollywood, California is where Lopez was born. Brook’s father is from Cuba. Consequently, Lopez is fluent in Spanish. Brook Lopez is 7’0” tall and is quite an aggressive player. Some analysts claim that his aggressiveness owes to his Cuban heritage. Nonetheless, he is averaging 1.5 blocks, 6.2 rebounds, and 19.3 points per game.
5. Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez is a professional tallest current NBA player who plays for the New Orleans Hornets. Alongside his twin brother Brook Lopez, Robin played college basketball for the Stanford Cardinal. His father was a Cuban baseball player and his mother was a swimmer, hence, he grew up speaking fluent Spanish.
6. Carlos Arroyo
An island inhabited by the Spanish right before the year 1500 was Puerto Rico, and that is where Arroyo is from. He is used to playing for the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors. And throughout his career, he never shied away from giving interviews in his native language, i.e., Spanish, which makes him unique from other Spanish-speaking athletes.
7. Nikola Jokić
A Serbian talent that we often see doing pre and post-match interviews in his native language, in which he feels more comfortable speaking. This left many wondering does Jokic speak English? Well to answer that question, yes he does. It took him a bit longer than others but can understand and speak English. However, he has often said that he sounds like and I quote “BLA BLA BLA”. He definitely has a good sense of humor, even if his English is not all that great. He is still playing for the Nuggets, ever since he joined the NBA and seems very happy there.
NBA Players Speaking French
At least one French-bred player selected in the first round has been featured in seven of the nine NBA drafts, since 2007. Some have become major starters and many are visible, while most have not exactly set the league on fire.
Besides Kobe speaking French, here are some of the NBA players who speak French as well.
1. Tony Parker
A majority owner of ASVEL BASKET in LNB Pro A, William Anthony Parker Jr. is a French-American former professional basketball player. He has had an illustrious basketball career, with six NBA All-star games and also an NBA finals MVP back in 2007. However, the important thing over here is that Parker is fluent in French. Usually, he gives interviews in French to French-speaking reporters based out of Canada. This shows that he stayed in touch with his ethnic roots.
2. Rudy Gobert
One of the most popular French-speaking players in the NBA is Rudy Bobert, who was born on June 26, 1992. In International competitions, he always represents the French national basketball team. With a wingspan of 7ft 9in long and standing at 7ft 1 in tall, he plays the center position for the Utah Jazz. Raised in his native town of Aisne in the north of France, Gobert is fluent in the French language. Moreover, in order to promote this language, he gives free basketball lessons to teenage boys and girls in his native town.
3. Kevin Seraphin
Standing 6 feet 10 inches tall, Kevin Seraphin is a French retired professional NBA player. He was picked up by the Chicago Bulls in the 2010 NBA draft. He never changed his nationality and after retiring from the NBA, he went back to France, where he lives as a basketball coach for a college team. Hence, he is fluent in the French language.
Does Shaq Know Chinese?
Shaq has often been seen conversing with his foreign teammates in certain multilingual phrases and sometimes complete sentences. However, there is no direct link to Shaq knowing Chinese fluently. Though there was a small controversy, well not controversy but more of a miscommunication for which he apologized to a man named Ming in Chinese.
During the 2003 controversy, Shaq learned a Chinese word for Yao Ming. Shaq learnt ‘Toy-inchee’, which translates to sorry in Chinese.
“Toy-inchee,” Shaq said. “Toy-inchee.”
“Chinese,” he said after looking up, “for ‘I’m sorry.’ For when I see Yao Ming.”
Both players later went on to have a great relationship on and off the court.
Does Lebron Speak Spanish?
LeBron James, an American professional basketball athlete, has been a prominent figure in the NBA for the last 2 decades. He boasts an impressive record of four NBA championships, four MVP titles, and three NBA Finals MVP awards. However, a lesser-known fact about LeBron is his proficiency in multiple languages. The question arises: How many languages does LeBron James command? The answer reveals that this basketball icon is fluent in three languages: English, Spanish, and Chinese.
Conclusively, the NBA has a versatile group of players in its organization. Due to the advent of social media, more and more people are raising awareness pertaining to the inclusion of different ethnicities. Thus the NBA does not discriminate based on an athlete’s ethnicity. Since there are multiple people who speak different languages. Moreover, NBA players are not just physically attributed. Players like Kobe, Shaq, and Luka speak multiple languages, which shows that athletes can adjust to any environment and can learn any language if they put their minds to it.
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