The debate has flared up again regarding the statements of sprinter Noah Lyles, where he questioned the validity of calling the winners of leagues like the NBA “world champions.”
“I had to watch the NBA finals and see how they were called world champions. World champion of what?… United States? Don’t misunderstand me. “I love the United States, sometimes, but we are not the world.”
Noah Lyles achieved a historic performance at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest 2023, as he achieved triple gold in the speed events.
The athlete became the champion in 100m, 200m and 4×100 relay, but his words did not stop there in his assurance:
“We are here in the world. Almost all countries are fighting among themselves, fighting to win, using their flags to show that they are represented. In the NBA there are no flags. We need to do more. We have to represent the world.”
After this, Lyles became the subject of many criticisms from NBA players; but the star of the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo gave his approval to those words, during the 48 Minutes podcast where he was invited.
“I really want to support him. He has received a lot of negative criticism for saying what is obvious to many, but some people don’t understand. Maybe there’s an arrogance to it.”
The Greek basketball player continued: “How can I speak kindly. I believe that in any sport nobody considers themselves ‘world champion’. For example soccer, which is bigger and more popular than the NBA. The winner of the Champions League is not considered the world champion; They say ‘UEFA Champions League Champions’. If you win the World Cup after facing the United States or the other countries on the planet, you can say you are the world champion.
He also quoted San Antonio Spurs legend Emanuel Ginobili:
“Manu Ginobili once said this… I don’t know if I should say it. I think that when Argentina won the World Cup in 2006 (although here Giannis was wrong and maybe he meant the gold medal in Athens 2004), Manu said: ‘I am the champion of the world and you are the champion of the NBA. But I am the world champion because I beat Greece, United States, I beat Spain, Brazil. I am the world champion.’ I agree, at the end of the day to be the world champion you have to beat the world,” he concluded.