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Finn Lauri Markkanen on fire with lead score in US pro basketball debut

Finnish basketball player Lauri Markkanen did not fail to impress when he took to the court for his first professional basketball game with the Chicago Bulls Saturday night. Although he closed the night with a noteworthy 14 points and eight rebounds, it was his misspelled game shirt that stole the show and had tongues wagging.

Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen Image: LEHTIKUVA / Getty Images / AFP

A rookie in the US professional basketball league, young Finn Lauri Markkanen posted a blazing start to his career in his first game with the Chicago Bulls Saturday night. Although the Bulls lost to the Dallas Mavericks by 91 points to 75, Markkanen ended the game with 14 points and eight rebounds in a performance that included two dunks and a three-pointer.

But it was the Finnish rookie’s misspelled game shirt that stole the show during his professional debut on Saturday night. He started the match in a shirt in which the second a and e were transposed, resulting in the name "Markkenan". Markkanen said that he knew early on that something was not quite right.

"Right when I got the jersey at the hotel," Markkanen said, adding "I didn't know who to tell. I just went out there and guys noticed it."

"They gave me a shirt with the right spelling in the third quarter but I didn’t want to change it on the bench," he continued.

Praise from teammate

Chris Dunn, a point guard who also joined Chicago from Minnesota was full of praise for his teammate.

"Great player," Dunns said. "He can knock down a shot, put the ball on the deck, make plays. I think once he gets stronger, he'll be very good."

Markkanen admitted to pre-game jitters before his debut, but proved he could conquer his nerves and focus on the game. He was drafted seventh by the Bulls in a first-round pick in late June and signed a multi-year contract.

His new home team faces the Atlanta Hawks on Monday (early Tuesday morning Finnish time).

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