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Sprinter Noah Lyles questions the NBA’s “world champion” claim, NBA players respond

Photo by Andy Astfalck/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Noah Lyles, the American sprinter who won three gold medals at last week’s World Athletics Championships, has caused upset with comments he made about the NBA. Lyles, who picked up medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay, spoke to reporters after winning his third gold and argued that athletics is a more global sport than the NBA, even though the latter brands its winner “world champions.”

“I watch the NBA Finals and they have “world champion” on their head,” Lyles told reporters in Budapest, Bulgaria, where the World Athletics Championships took place. “World champion of what? The United States?” Lyles added. “Don’t get me wrong. I love the US — at times — but that ain’t the world.”

His comments, which were said in a lighthearted tone, have garnered reactions from a number of NBA players, with Kevin Durant commenting on Instagram: “Somebody help this brother.”

Devin Booker, meanwhile, responded with a facepalm emoji. Aaron Gordon, the Denver Nuggets player who won the NBA finals in June, wrote: “Whatever … I’m smoking buddy in the 200m.”

Lyles, who ran the 200m in 19.52s, is hardly shy of confidence and told reporters that he sees his recent success as being the start of something that could be bigger than athletics for him.

“I am ready to transcend the sport,” he said. “I am the guy who wants to move past being track-famous. I want people to see me on the track, but in GQ and my docu-series, and realize I’m a cool guy too.

“Medals are the first step, because then people pay attention to you,” he added. “And then you can go into different directions. Fashion. Music. You can start collaborating with other people, artists, and the world.”