CBS Sports play-by-play voice Ian Eagle dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Thursday to discuss numerous topics, including the pronunciation of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yes, many people struggle pronouncing the Milwaukee forward’s name, but Eagle does not.
“I take this so seriously,” Eagle said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “A couple years ago, I went to Greece for a week and I went through a pronunciation boot camp. Very taxing. Your larynx is really struggling to produce sounds after the week. But after the week, I felt like I could do it. That’s why Giannis Antetokounmpo flows off the tongue. I don’t even question it anymore. I want to immerse myself in the pronunciations.”
There’s a reason for that.
“The reality, truly, is because people butcher my name so often, I think I take it personally,” Eagle said, prompting laughter from Gio and Jones. “When I go to airports around the country and have to check in and you’ve got somebody at a particular airline that says, ‘Okay, Mr. EE-on EE-ah-glay.’ Seriously, lady, you’re messing up the national bird? You can’t get (that one right)?”
Eagle was asked for the toughest pronunciation in football or basketball.
“This is a little bit of a tough one,” Eagle said. “I want to say this as diplomatically as possible because I know it’s a family show and there are people driving around in their cars. There was a (basketball) player on the Stanford Cardinal many years ago – and a good player, solid player – and if you overanalyzed the name, you could have some serious problems. His (first) name was Matt, so that part was very easy. His last name was Haryasz.”
First syllable is pronounced “hairy.” Second syllable is pronounced, well, you can figure it out.
“Say it 45 times when he touches the basketball throughout a game,” Eagle said, “and at some point, your mind goes there.”