Lyles, 26, is the newest track and field sprint king after taking home three gold medals at the World Athletic Championships. But, instead of praises, the American sprinter received backlash from NBA superstars after his ‘world champion’ comment.

On Aug 27, Lyles was interviewed about his recent triumphs in Budapest, Hungary. But among his statements, one stood out the most as he directed it at the NBA: 

“You know the thing that hurts me the most is that I have to watch the NBA Finals and they have ‘world champion’ on their head,” Lyles said. “World champion of what? The United States?”

“Don’t get me wrong. I love the U.S., at times – but that ain’t the world. That is not the world. We are the world.”, Lyles added alluding to the competitors in the World Athletics Championships.

“We have almost every country out here fighting, thriving, putting on their flag to show that they are represented. There ain’t no flags in the NBA.”, Lyles continued.

After hearing about it, several NBA superstars flocked to the comment section of the video interview in IG. 

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant wrote, “Somebody help this brother”, while Four-time NBA champion Draymond Green added, “When being smart goes wrong”.

Several others also chimed in:

P.J. Tucker: [Facepalm emoji] can’t make this s— up

Devin Booker: [Facepalm emoji]

Damian Lillard: Tf [two laughing emojis]

Aaron Gordon: Whatever… I’m smoking buddy in the 200m [dashing away emoji]

Bam Adebayo: Lol Is Somebody Going To Tell Him??

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Tyus Jones: Yea this ain’t it [facepalm emoji, laughing emoji]

Tyrese Haliburton also joined the discussion, siding with the NBA stars:

“I really don’t understand the point of it, but because the NBA’s the best league in the world, so…It wasn’t the most intelligent response,” said Haliburton.

But despite the backlash, some came to Lyles defense, like Sha’ Carri Richardson, who also had a successful week at the World Athletic Championships, and Gary AI-Smith, a sports journalist:

“I’m standing with Noah on this one! The organization have players from different countries but do they compete against different countries. You have to go against the world in order to be a world champion!”, said Richardson.

“The reaction from the US to Noah Lyles comments is the perfect mirror into American Exceptionalism, and it is fascinating. They genuinely believe the NBA winner is a world champion because the league has the world’s best players, not because different nations play for it,”, said Smith. 

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