Noah Lyles increased his title bag to six world titles at the World Championships in Athletics, winning the prestigious 100m, 200m and 4x100m events. But what further drew public attention to his victories was the position of Lyles at the official press conference, where he was asked about the development of athletics as a sport, and he emphasized that this is a global competition.
“You know, what hurts me the most is that I have to watch the NBA Finals, where they are declared “world champions,” Lyles told the media. “Where exactly are the world champions? IN THE USA? Don’t get me wrong, I love the US, but it’s not the whole world.”
“The whole world is here (at the World Cup),” Lyles continued. “We have almost every country in the world participating in this World Cup, fighting for its flag, represented by the athletes of this country. There are no other flags at NBA games.”
“World champion in what? United States?”
Track and field star Noah Lyles on NBA champions calling themselves world champions.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 27, 2023
Lyles is referring to the desire of the major US sports leagues to proclaim their winners as world champions, and the American sprinter singled out more than just the NBA. There is, of course, an explanation for the fact that there are 30 teams in the NBA, 29 of which are based in the US and one in Canada. No one doubts that the NBA is the strongest and richest basketball league in the world, but it is also a fact that it is a closed league, that is, currently neither Asian, nor European, nor African, nor southern. American teams have a theoretical chance of winning the NBA Finals. This is due to the tournament of national teams taking place now in Asia, namely the World Cup.
While what Lyles said is apparently true, several NBA stars have publicly objected to it and even ridiculed the American sprinter.
“Someone help him,” Kevin Durant wrote on social media, with teammate Devin Booker adding a pinched face emoji. Meanwhile, Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon wrote that he was capable of overtaking Lyles in the 200m, which of course the athletics community would like to see come true in practice.
The Hit Center Bam Adebayo, meanwhile, wrote: “LOL. Who will explain to him?”, apparently thinking that Lyles and the rest of the world outside the United States do not understand something. Warriors forward Draymond Green wrote: “When wisdom fades.” On the other hand, Damian Lillard rated this social media post with two tfs, apparently wondering what Liles really meant.
This is far from the first time that U.S. sports officials have been sincerely surprised that the rest of the world does not consider the winners of their leagues to be world champions. Here we should remember the curious case six years ago, when the German football player Bastian Schweinsteiger arrived in the US Football League and was deeply baffled at a press conference by the question of whether his Chicago Fire team could become “world champions”. Also, in the case of the MLS, unlike the NBA, no one should be under the illusion that this league somehow claims to be the “world’s strongest league”.
This time, the strongest basketball league in Europe, ULEB Euroleague, did not stand aside, which sarcastically posted a poll on social networks “Who will become the Euroleague world champion in the 2023/24 season?”
Who do you think will win the Euroleague world title in 2024? 👀🏆 https://t.co/zj23bm9hRL
— Turkish Airlines Euroleague (@EuroLeague) August 29, 2023