American track star, Noah Lyles, has reignited the conversation surrounding American athletes' distinction as "world champions". In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, the gold medalist from the 2023 World Athletics Championships bared his frustrations over how titles, especially in the NBA, are often misconstrued.
Lyles explained, “I feel the essence of my point was overlooked. When I refer to our national championships, I want the same reverence given to our world champions. Athletics has consistently fetched the maximum medals for the country every year, yet it feels as though it’s shadowed by the more popular leagues”.
Lyles Challenges 'World Champion' Label
His contention revolves around the terminology. For Lyles, the NBA Finals winner being labeled "world champions" seems a tad overreaching, especially considering the league's primary presence is in the U.S.
This statement, predictably, didn't sit well with several basketball bigwigs. NBA giants like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Devin Booker were quick to retort. And the unexpected voice in this chorus? Music icon, Drake, who chimed in saying that due to Lyles' comment, the entire NBA league now looks at him differently.
Addressing Drake's comment, Lyles shot back during the TMZ Sports segment. “Drake, maybe it’s best you stay out of this one. This is an NBA discourse,” he commented. Reflecting on the sudden attention from the rapper, he later told GQ’s Chris Cohen, “It’s amusing that even Drake jumped in.
Seriously, what's he doing in this debate? It’s almost comedic”. Lyles, who passionately cheers for his fellow Americans, did, however, seem to have a smirk on his face when Team USA suffered a jolting semifinal defeat against Germany in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
This loss pushed the United States to a fourth-place finish after a heart-wrenching 127-118 overtime setback to neighbors, Canada. While Lyles' comments might have stirred the pot, they undeniably shine a light on the broader discussion of how "world champion" titles are perceived and attributed in American sports.
As the debate rages on, one thing is certain: Lyles isn’t one to shy away from expressing his opinion, even if it means taking on the titans of the NBA and music alike.