U.S. sprint star Noah Lyles has been in the eye of the hurricane this week after he made some controversial comments about how NBA trophies are being hailed as ‘world championships’, even though the league is a domestic tournament.
“The thing that hurts me the most is that I have to watch the NBA finals, and they have ‘World champion’ on their heads. World champion of what? The United States?” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the US at times, but that ain’t the world.”
The young star made these remarks right after winning three gold medals for the United States in an international competition in Budapest, Hungary last week. Ever since, he’s been insulted by many NBA stars, who has described him as an ignorant.
Gregg Popovich said the exact words as Noah Lyles about NBA champions being called ‘World champions’ more than 13 years ago 👀 pic.twitter.com/NsxrzX4pnT
— BasketNews (@BasketNews_com) August 30, 2023
However, just as the basketball players voiced their anger towards the sprinter, many other fans felt proud that Lyles had the corage to state the truth.
During the tornado of criticism, a 2010 interview from Gregg Popovich was resurfaced because the legendary Spurs coach had similar approach to that of Lyles perspective.
“There are no world champions in the NBA, so anybody that has the flag up that says world champions is not correct. It’s not appropriate,” Pop told insider Steve Bulpett 13 years ago.
“The world champions, I believe, are the Spanish team right now. USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion,” he kept on explaining his views. “It doesn’t make sense for an NBA team to call themselves world champions. I don’t remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get that tag. Isn’t that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I’ve missed something.”
During that interview, an argument came up that some league franchises are international, just like the Toronto Raptors, but he quickly dismissed the idea.
“There’s a team in Canada. That’s true. The world’s bigger than North America. I know sometimes we, as arrogant Americans, don’t respond to the rest of the world, but it’s true. There’s a big world out there,” Popovich assured.
“I’m not trying to be an ass,” he said. “Why can’t we just be NBA champions? That’s what we are. We’re NBA champions. That’s not good enough? I think that’s pretty cool. I think that’s pretty good to be an NBA champion. That’s hard to do.”
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith first called Lyles an ‘ignorant’ but then publicly apologized for his poor choice of words
Right when all the NBA stars were ganging up on the Olympic athlete this week, Stephen A. Smith agreed with their stance on the matter and publicly called out Lyles with disappointment.
“I’m sure he’s a good brother and a whole bit,” the ESPN broadcaster first expressed. “He just came across as flagrantly ignorant – and that needs to be said.”
Smith then added that the number of international stars has increased since then, now making up almost a third of the NBA. “So how is that not global?” the First Take host asked. “How is that not the world champion?”
Nevertheless, the legendary broadcaster eventually came into his senses and realized his mistake. Smith released a new video this Wednesday publicly apologizing for mistreating Lyles for his latest comments.