Giannis Antetokounmpo used to go by a different name
Many people in the sports business wouldn’t object to Giannis Antetokounmpo changing his last name again. The two-time NBA MVP has one of the most complex last names in athletics to pronounce and type correctly. But Giannis’ name is a relatively new one.
Giannis was recently featured on an episode of “How Hungry Are You?” hosted by Milwaukee Bucks teammate Serge Ibaka. Ibaka asked him about the origins of his current spelling. Giannis said it had to do with international travel:
“When you take another country’s passport, your name has to be spelled with their alphabet, Giannis explained to Serge. “So in the D, they put ‘NT’, and in the ‘B’, they put ‘MP’. So, it’s pronounced Antetokounmpo. The Greek way. But the Nigerian way, the way I knew my name growing up, was Adetokounbo“
Giannis said that his jersey kept the passport spelling.
“But you know when you get the Greek passport, then you get the contract with the NBA, they have to put your last name exactly how it is in your passport on the back of your jersey,” Giannis said.
The original name still would have been trouble to pronounce
The segment was a neat look into how international athletes have to deal with the ins and outs of playing across countries. Giannis had to give up a lot to pursue his career in the US. While it’s too bad for Giannis that he couldn’t keep his original name, the prior spelling wouldn’t have been easier on sports pundits. But if Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t do another name change, this sports writer wouldn’t object.
Metta World Peace did it while playing basketball, so it’s not out of the question. (Though the former NBA player now goes by Metta Sandiford-Artest.) One wonders what more simple name Giannis would take if he wanted to save time on his signature?