Q&A with Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic

Goran Dragic has learned to speak four languages. Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Heat guard Goran Dragic of Slovenia has learned to speak four languages. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

MIAMI – Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic was born in Slovenia and became a professional basketball player when he was in high school. By the time he was 22 he had played on seven professional teams in three countries, Slovenia, Spain and the United States.

Dragic’s NBA career began in 2008 with Phoenix Suns. By then he was learning his fourth language.

I sat down with Goran for the latest installment of our question and answer segment we will bring you throughout the season.

Q: How many languages do you speak?

GD: Four. Slovenian, Serbian, English and Spanish. My father is Serbian and my mom is Slovenian. My father came (to Slovenia ) when he was 17, 18. At home he would always speak Serbian and my mom Slovenian.

Q: How long did it take you learn English?

GD: I started learning when I was in high school. I was already a professional basketball player, I was traveling a lot. We were traveling to different countries and I had to learn English.

Q: What about Spanish?

DG: When I was 17, the first time I went away from my country to Spain and nobody speaks English over there so that’s why I had to learn Spanish. My coach was always talking Spanish. That’s why I take a class to learn Spanish.

Q: What was the toughest to learn: English or Spanish?

GD: For me was Spanish but not because of difficulty of the language because I didn’t have enough time. I was there one year and I had to learn so quickly like in one or two months to understand what is going on, what is coach talking about. English is pretty hard, especially pronouncing hard words. I got a big accent but as long as people understand me I’m fine.

Q: You have taught some teammates how to speak Slovenian or Serbian through the years?

GD: If somebody asks me. Chris Bosh did that. He knew a lot of Serbian players. Sometimes he would talk to me in Serbian a little bit and I’d talk back. But now we have Justise (Winslow), he’s kind of eager to learn.

Q: We heard Justise count to 5 in Slovenian, what else does he know?

GD: I would say basic, basic words. It’s so funny. I can see that now he’s going through what I went through for my Spanish because it’s really hard. But it’s exciting because he’s a smart guy. He’s learning pretty quick.

Q: What’s more difficult, learning our language or our style of basketball?

GD: I would say the language because in school we had British English, proper English. Here it’s a lot of slang in the locker rooms. Sometimes, especially the first two or three years, teammates were talking so fast in slang I didn’t know what they were talking about. When I came to the NBA I always liked to play fast-paced not like in Europe when you play 5-on-5 halfcourt so I learned the style of basketball quicker.

Q: Has there been times on the court things got messed up because of the language barrier?

GD: Oh yeah, definitely. Sometimes I’d call a play and the players they don’t understand because of my accent and they think I called something differently and then they could not get to the right spots. Now it’s over, now everybody can understand.

[As losses mount, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra attempts to keep team’s spirits buoyed]

[Heat’s Rodney McGruder has another dream-come-true moment Tuesday]

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