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While China may be known more for kung fu (功夫 – gōng fu) and ping pong (乒乓 – pīng pāng) – both English words that were borrowed from Chinese, by the way – basketball (篮球 – lán qiú) is becoming more and more popular in the Middle Kingdom. Take a walk around any college campus in China, and you’re sure to find the ping pong tables deserted and the basketball courts packed. If you’re looking to make friends with guys in China, b-ball is a great topic of discussion. Of course, there are Chinese names for all of the teams and players in the league, so you’ll need to do a little bit of studying before confidently chatting about the NBA in Chinese. Here are the Chinese names for all 30 NBA teams to get you started:
Technically speaking, you could add the Chinese word for team (队 – duì) after each name. That’s not really necessary, though, as long as it’s clear that you’re talking about basketball.
Here’s a sample of a short conversation you might have with someone about hoops in Chinese:
Do you like basketball?
nǐ xǐ huan lán qiú ma
Yes (I do). How about you?
xǐ huan, nǐ ne
I like it very much.
wǒ hěn xǐ huan
Which team do you like?
nǐ xǐ huan nǎ ge duì
My favorite is the Heat, and you?
wǒ zuì xǐ huan rè huǒ duì, nǐ ne
I don’t like the Heat. I like the Bulls.
wǒ bù xǐ huan rè huǒ. wǒ xǐ huan gōng niú duì
That should get you started talking about the NBA and the various teams. For some more advanced practice, check out this conversation video all about hoops:
Before we go, it’s worth mentioning that there are some interesting nicknames for NBA players in Chinese. Some are direct translations of their English nicknames, such as Allen Iverson AKA “The Answer” 答案 – dá’àn). Others are a bit more entertaining and definitely Chinese style:
Toss out some of those nicknames, and you’re sure to impress with your Chinese skills. Unfortunately I can’t help you with your on the court skills…