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Explaining Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's nickname and pronunciation


Few NBA players meld style with substance as well as Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Canadian standout has emerged as one of the league’s greatest talents over the past few years, finishing second in MVP voting this season. He’s continued his impressive play into the postseason, so much so that he’s got Oklahoma City fans dreaming of a potential title once the dust settles.

Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the league’s more recognizable faces. His name, however, can get lost in the mire at times, mostly because it’s just so long. It features seven syllables and 21 letters, far more than most of his basketball counterparts.

Everyone wants to talk about Gilgeous-Alexander. Few want to spend the added time spilling out his mouthful of a name. In that environment, innovation struck: what if the powers that be handed him a simple nickname?

SGA was born. And it has become all the rage in the years since Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as an All-NBA caliber talent, featuring on billboards, broadcasts and even Gilgeous-Alexander’s shoes themselves.

Here’s what you need to know about Gilgeous-Alexander’s straightforward moniker, SGA.

Why didn’t Shai Gilgeous-Alexander win MVP for his historic season?

SGA is Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The No. 11 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Gilgeous-Alexander started his career with the Clippers. He was traded to Oklahoma City in 2019 as part of the Paul George trade.

Now in his sixth season in the NBA, Gilgeous-Alexander is a two-time All-Star with one All-NBA selection.

Why did the Clippers trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Thunder?

Gilgeous-Alexander is often referred to by his initials, SGA, across NBA circles. The reason why is simple: it’s far easier to say than his full name.

Such is life when you possess a double-barreled last name.

Countless athletes have been christened with three-letter sobriquets to replace their lengthier full names, from Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD) and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (DCL) to Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP). Gilgeous-Alexander is simply one of numerous athletic marvels to employ the tactic.

Gilgeous-Alexander may be known as Shai or SGA, but there’s plenty more than that which meets the eye. His full name is actually Shaivonte Aician Gilgeous-Alexander, which spans a whopping 32 letters. 

If you’d like to say Gilgeous-Alexander’s shortened name, here’s how you pronounce it:

“SHY GIL-juss AL-eck-zan-der”

Where Nikola Jokic’s MVP awards rank on all-time list

Here’s a look at Gilgeous-Alexander’s numbers during his splendid 2023-24 campaign:

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