A little fun one to round off your day here: An intrepid Twitter user has uncovered the wild nicknames that hardcore NBA fans in China have given superstar players, and the results are… fairly wild, to say the least.
The story goes thusly: Historian Nick Kapur pointed out the fact that official Chinese media sources often use what he calls “boring phonetic translations” when converting player names into the notably complex Mandarin language, failing to use Chinese characters that have both sound and meaning attached to them.
A thread of Chinese internet nicknames for NBA players.— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
China is crazy for the NBA, but official sources use boring phonetic transcriptions, failing to take advantage of Chinese characters having both sound and meaning. Chinese netizens have "improved" on these official names.
Big time hoops fans in China have, to that end, prescribed some wild nicknames to players that often have long paths to get there.
How wild? Try these on for size.
LeBron James, for example, is known as “The Little Emporer,” which is a play on a slang term for “spoiled only child.”
Lebron James – 小皇帝 "The Little Emperor"— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
A play on the English "King James" that is also a slang term for a "spoiled only child" under China's "One Child Policy"
Used more when Lebron was young but now mostly by Lebron haters. His fans prefer 詹皇 (Zhan Wang or "King James").
Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as “Letters Bro” because his surname has… y’know… a coupla letters in it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 字母哥 "Letters Bro"— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
Because his last name has…so…many…letters!
Manu Ginobli earns by far and away the coolest nickname of “The Demon Blade” for his ability to Eurostep his way to the rim, and Kobe Bryant scores “Snail Shell” because of how it rhymes in the local tongue.
Manu Ginobili – 妖刀 "The Demon Blade"— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
Perhaps the coolest nickname of them all, Ginobili earned this moniker for his ability to slash to the hoop using tricky footwork like the Eurostep.
Former NBA journeyman and current Chinese star Stephon Marbury scored what is quite clearly the most left-field nickname of “Marburyist Political Commisar,” which is merely an extremely long socialist pun, meanwhile Dwyane Wade cops a warrior nickname that just-so-happens to be a soundalike for his actual name.
Stephon Marbury – 马政委 "Marburyist Political Commissar"— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
This is a pun on "Marxist Political Commissar," since in Chinese both "Marbury" and "Marx" are spelled with the same first character "ma" ("horse").
The recently-retired Andre Miller cops “Karen Mok” for his apparent uncanny resemblance to the Hong Kong actress and pop star of the same name.
Andre Miller – 莫文蔚 "Karen Mok"— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
Because people think he looks like Hong Kong actress and pop star Karen Mok pic.twitter.com/6Uh2IcCgOT
It’s like I’m seeing double there. Four Andres!
But by far and away the best one belongs to Steph Curry.
The Golden State Warriors gun owns the incredible moniker “Fucks The Sky,” and the path there is a bloody journey, I tell you what.
Far beyond intimating that he literally humps clouds, Curry’s phonetic name in Mandarin contains a character that combines the characters for both sun and ground. The character for sun also happens to double as a slang term for “fuck.”
Noting that old mate likes to shoot 3s with decent regularity, fans simply replaced the character for ground or Earth with the one for sky instead.
Therefore, Steph Curry “Fucks The Sky” in China.
Given Curry's penchant for launching shots into the sky, Chinese netizens apparently felt it would be more apropos to name him "fucks the sky" instead of "fucks the ground," so they replaced "earth" (土) with "sky" (天) in the second character. 2/3— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) May 7, 2018
How the hell about that, sports fans. How the hell about that.