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20 Sports Names We Know You Can't Spell

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterMarch 13, 2014

20 Sports Names We Know You Can't Spell

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Sports history is filled with memorable names—names that are synonymous with some of the biggest plays or even used to identify a rule that was inspired by something involving them.

    However, whether the athlete is a record-setter or simply someone in the right place at the right time, being memorable is no guarantee that his or her name—if it happens to be unique or from another country and culture—won't suffer from a chronic case of misspelling.

    Some names seem to trip up sports fans more than others—for obvious or not-so-obvious reasons.

    Here are 20 sports names we know you can't spell.

    But, by all means, prove us wrong and tell us how many you got right in the comments section.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    A) Ben Rothlessburgers

    B) Ben Roethlisberger

    C) Ben Roflisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    A) Ben Rothlessburgers

    B) Ben Roethlisberger

    C) Ben Roflisberger

    A 10-year veteran and one of the NFL's star quarterbacks, it's easy to forget that when the Steelers selected "Big Ben" with the 11th overall pick in 2004 NFL draft, his last name was easily butchered in writing as well as elocution. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    JEFFREY PHELPS/Associated Press

    A) Giannis Antetokounmpo

    B) Adonis Auntockoompo

    C) Giannise Antitokunmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    A) Giannis Antetokounmpo

    B) Adonis Auntockoompo

    C) Giannise Antitokunmpo

    Bucks guard and NBA rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo has made a splash in his first year—proving to be an up-and-coming player on the league's worst team. All signs point to him carrying on the rich tradition of NBA players from overseas who confound and confuse our spell check-softened minds. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Junji Kurokawa/Associated Press

    A) Dikembe Muhtumbo

    B) Dikembe Mootombstone

    C) Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    A) Dikembe Muhtumbo

    B) Dikembe Mootombstone

    C) Dikembe Mutombo

    Few names are as fun to mangle before finally nailing it than retired NBA big man and philanthropist Dikembe Mutombo. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    A) Mike Kresheshkey

    B) Mike Critchetskee

    C) Mike Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski

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    SARA D. DAVIS/Associated Press

    A) Mike Kresheshkey

    B) Mike Critchetskee

    C) Mike Krzyzewski

    There's a very practical reason Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is known as "Coach K." It's because to the average person, nothing about how his name is pronounced indicates that two "z's" would be book-ending one "y."

    Unless you grew up spending most major holidays with your grandmother in a place called Polish Hill—then it's all too familiar.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Karl Walter/Getty Images

    A) Troy Palomalu

    B) Troy Palamalu

    C) Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    A) Troy Palomalu

    B) Troy Palamalu

    C) Troy Polamalu

    Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is in the twilight of his career, but he's been a bona fide star and one of the best at his position in the NFL—and perhaps of all time. The fame doesn't preclude his name from getting the case of the vowel mix-ups.

    In fact, there is a song about the phenomenon.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    A) Michael Hoomanawanui

    B) Michael O'Omanuinee

    C) Michael Uhohmanuwany

Michael Hoomanawanui

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    A) Michael Hoomanawanui

    B) Michael O'Omanuinee

    C) Michael Uhohmanuwany

    Recently re-signed by the Patriots, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui's father is a native Hawaiian; and the Hawaiian people know how to create a name that will befuddle even the most capable speller.

    Consider this: Hawaii's state fish is called the humuhumunukunukuapua'a. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    A) Kolin Caperknick

    B) Colin Kapearneck

    C) Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A) Kolin Caperknick

    B) Colin Kapearneck

    C) Colin Kaepernick

    49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is just 26 years old and has already started in one Super Bowl and two NFC Championship Games. But his is one of those names that, when heard, conjures up a word that looks nothing like the actual name. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    A) Mark Teixeira

    B) Mark Teschera

    C) Mark Ke$hara

Mark Teixeira

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    Jason Szenes/Getty Images

    A) Mark Teixeira

    B) Mark Teschera

    C) Mark Ke$hara

    Yankees first basemen Mark Teixeira has been one of the best two-way players in MLB, but the fact that his name violates the old adage "i before e, except after c" is an unacceptable violation of the laws that govern this universe.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    A) Jarrod Saltalamacchia

    B) Jarrod Salt'amachiatto

    C) Jarrod Soltelamaccia

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    A) Jarrod Saltalamacchia

    B) Jarrod Salt'amachiatto

    C) Jarrod Soltelamaccia

    If I were a teammate of Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, I would politely ask him if it would be ok to simply call him "Jerry Salt." And, he would say "No."

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    A) Mazer Is'taurus

    B) Maicer Izturis

    C) Micer Istore

Maicer Izturis

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    Brandon Wade/Getty Images

    A) Mazer Is'taurus

    B) Maicer Izturis

    C) Micer Istore

    The huge sigh of relief heard in Toronto last year when Blue Jays second baseman Maicer Izturis was put on the disabled list came from the copy editor in charge of the Toronto Star's sports section.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Handout/Getty Images

    A) Nico Cootievedes

    B) Niko Koutouvides

    C) Niko Cutieveedies

Niko Koutouvides

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    A) Nico Cootievedes

    B) Niko Koutouvides

    C) Niko Cutieveedies

    NFL free-agent linebacker Niko Koutouvides' name underscores his Greek heritage—a culture that has given the world delicious food and names packed with more vowels than the average person can compute.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    A) Nikolai Khabibulin

    B) Nicolai Kabiboulean

    C) Ni'kola Kaboblinen

Nikolai Khabibulin

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    A) Nikolai Khabibulin

    B) Nicolai Kabiboulean

    C) Ni'kola Kaboblinen

    When a sport draws a contingent of talented athletes from Russia, Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries, as the NHL does, a fair share of North American fans will never spell or pronounce a name like Khabibulin right the first time (and as a proper noun, spell check won't be there to bail them out.).  

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    A) Jeff Summer-Jeeduh

    B) Geoff Sumardgeeda

    C) Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija

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    Denis Poroy/Getty Images

    A) Jeff Summer-Jeeduh

    B) Geoff Sumardgeeda

    C) Jeff Samardzija

    Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija's last name is like a sadistic mash-up of Bruins center Marc Savard and tongue-twisting cymbals brand Zildjian.  

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    A) Dwayne Wade

    B) Dwyane Wade

    C) Duane Wade 

Dwyane Wade

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    A) Dwayne Wade

    B) Dwyane Wade

    C) Duane Wade 

    Heat guard Dwyane Wade's premature "y" doesn't offer the intimidation factor of a Slavic surname loaded with strangely positioned consonants, which makes it sneaky.

    You expect to completely bungle former Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk's name, but Wade's first name turns your confidence into a liability.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    A) Ndokumong Suh

    B) Ndamukong Suh

    C) Nintendodotcom Suh

Ndamukong Suh

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    A) Ndokumong Suh

    B) Ndamukong Suh

    C) Nintendodotcom Suh

    While Lions defensive end Ndamukong Suh neither represents the most complicated or phonetically counter-intuitive name in the NFL, the rhythm of "N-dam-u-kong" has no room for error.

    So, a name you so deftly spoke without hesitation a few minutes ago transforms into a virtual train wreck on paper—the placement of "dam" and "kong" go from a certainty to an agonizing question mark.

    Then it spreads to the "u," and suddenly you've invented a non-existent NFL player named Ndongukam Suh.  

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    A) Jonas Valanciunas

    B) Jonas Vallasiunaz

    C) Jonus Balancyunas

Jonas Valanciunas

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    A) Jonas Valanciunas

    B) Jonas Vallanziunas

    C) Jonus Balancyunas

    Center Jonas Valanciunas hails from Lithuania and is part of a Raptors team that could be playoff-bound after a near six-year postseason drought.

    If this classic Charles Barkley moment is any indication, "Valanciunas" is going to give NBA on TNT producers heartburn. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Warren Little/Getty Images

    A) Agonyshka Raekwonska

    B) Agnieszka Radwanska

    C) Agneschka Radvanscah

Agnieszka Radwanska

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    A) Agonyshka Raekwonska

    B) Agnieszka Radwanska

    C) Agneschka Radvanscah

    No further explanation is needed other than the fact the WTA has to publish a pronunciation guide for tennis pro Agnieszka Radwanska and others on the tour.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    A) Paul Paulzusny

    B) Paul Posluszny

    C) Paul Pusluxury

Paul Posluszny

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    A) Paul Pawzlovesny

    B) Paul Posluszny

    C) Paul Pusluxury

    Former Penn State standout and current Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny is from southwestern Pennsylvania. And like many people from Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities, his name ambushes you on paper with an s-z punch.

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Lance Thomson/Getty Images

    A) Dustin Byfugglian

    B) Dustin Bifooglion

    C) Dustin Byfuglien 

Dustin Byfuglien

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    Marianne Helm/Getty Images

    A) Dustin Byfugglian

    B) Dustin Bifooglion

    C) Dustin Byfuglien 

    The bruising Jets defenseman can win a lot of fights, except the one over the ability for the average fan to spell and pronounce his last name correctly. 

Which Spelling Is Correct?

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    Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

    A) Pornanong Phatlum

    B) Pornonong Patloom

    C) Poornahnong Patlum

Pornanong Phatlum

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    A) Pornanong Phatlum

    B) Pornonong Patloom

    C) Poornahnong Patlum

    Thai pro golfer Pornanong Phatlum is one of the young rising stars of the LPGA, and with a full name that is both spelled phonetically while also slipping in a silent "h," your first instinct is to assume no name could possibly include the word "porn" in it.  

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