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U.S. Track and Field athlete Noah Lyles has called out the NBA and the players have responded.
Lyles questioned NBA players using the term “world champion” when referring to winning the Larry O’Brien trophy, saying “world champion of what…the United States?”
Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Aaron Gordon and more all had responses for Lyles question.
Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and other NBA players respond to Noah Lyles’ comments. pic.twitter.com/O1eApkNpFG
Durant stated “somebody help this brother” and Gordon challenged him to a 200-meter race. The overall consensus from the players was that Lyles point was nonsense.
From Lyles’ viewpoint, the NBA is exclusive to North America, with the Toronto Raptors being the only franchise that is based outside of the continental United States. Lyles and other Olympic sports athletes face competition from all over the world.
On the other hand, the NBA stars have a point about how difficult it is to play in the NBA. The league itself is international, with stars like Nikola Jokić, Luka Dončić and 2023 No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama all hailing from outside of the U.S.
Not only that but the league itself is regarded as the pinnacle of professional basketball.
Additionally, the U.S. international basketball team has a storied history, winning 16 gold medals at the Olympic Games, five at the FIBA World Cup and seven at the FIBA AmeriCup. Those accomplishments come despite many of the top players deciding against competing internationally.
Semantics can lean towards Lyles being correct, but the champion of the NBA is safely regarded as the world champion due to the prestige and ability within the league. That is what the NBA players are saying, which definitely gives some weight to their argument.
Still, the difference in opinion can be linked to the respective sports. Track and field is an internationally based sport, where basketball is more league-oriented.