Just in time for the next round of the NBA playoffs, and thanks to two readers, each with the initials AK, here's your comprehensive source of the Chinese listings for NBA team names. This is on the heels of the reports that the Pacers are the "Walkers," the Lakers are the "Lake People," and so on.
I. Authoritative index from China.nba.Com, showing all the teams with their Chinese names.
II. Similar guide, with more Chinese-y layout (below), is from Goalchina.net:
IV. An out of date but droll list of Chinese nicknames for NBA players is worth a look. Eg, Dikembe Mutombo was 非洲大山, "Big African Mountain."
Some of the team-name translations are disappointing. For instance, Celtics and Knicks are just transliterations, to the extent the Chinese language allows. Celtics are "kaierte people" -- sure! sounds just like it! this is part of the joy of Chinese transliteration -- and Knicks are nikesi, which is closer. But others are more promising, like the "76 People" out of Philly. I'll let you figure out Raptors, Grizzlies, Bobcats, Spurs, Magic, Heat, etc for your own amusement. Thanks to readers for help.
Bonus: from another reader, more on the possible Chinese versions of "Pacers":