Drake Echoes Kevin Durant and Other NBA Stars In Slamming US Sprinter Noah Lyles Over His Critical ‘World Champion’ Comments

Noah Lyles may have proved he’s the fastest man in the world, but the track and field sensation received some backlash from rapper Drake and others at lightning speed after sharing his frustration with NBA teams being dubbed “world champions” when they win the NBA Finals.

Drake joins NBA stars who slam runner Noah Lyles over his "world champions" comment.
Drake joins NBA stars who slam runner Noah Lyles over his “world champions” comment.(Photos: @champagnepapi/Instagram; @noahlyles/Instagram; @worldathletics/Intagram@wabudapest23/Instagram)

“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. 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,” Lyles said with an incredulous laugh.

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

The six-time gold medalist made the comments at a press conference on Friday, Aug. 25, after sweeping his races during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Lyles, 26, voiced his opinion as a part of a longer answer after being asked what could be done to improve the popularity of his sport.

His NBA comments went viral and have internet streets blazing with debates. Unsurprisingly, Lyles’ words have drawn some strong reactions from very high-profile NBA players, rappers, media personalities, other celebrities and fans alike.

“Big fan but gon wit that bulls—t bra,” retired Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem commented under an ESPN Instagram post highlighting Lyles’ comments. He accentuated his response with the hashtag “#suckas—t.”

“Lol Is Somebody Going To Tell Him??” Heat center Bam Adebayo echoed. “Somebody help this brother,” Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant chimed in. “When being smart goes wrong,” Golden State’s Draymond Green added.

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“Why bro care so much?” point guard De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings asked. Suns guard Devin Booker simply replied with a facepalm emoji.

But NBA players weren’t the only ones that were flabbergasted by what some deemed as unprovoked shade. “’Hurts me the most’ is crazy,” NFL player Arik Armstead noted.

“He thought this speech was gonna be so hard in the mirror the night before… now the whole league doesn’t rate [you],” Grammy-winning artist Drake, who is an NBA superfan, added.

“Always seems weird when ppl spend the big moment they’ve been waiting for, only to bash someone else’s accomplishment. It doesn’t make their shine more impressive,” Chef Kevin Curry commented under the ESPN post.

However, there were some who agreed with Lyles and countered those who argued since the NBA had the best talent that comes from around the world the title was appropriate. Fellow U.S. triple-medalist sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was one of them.

“I’m standing with Noah on this one !! @LylesNoah,” Richardson tweeted, adding that “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!!”

Others pointed out that the NBA isn’t the only national league to use the terminology, noting Major League Baseball calls its finals the “World Series.”

“You can only be a WORLD champion if you beat individuals or teams representing the WORLD,” former NFL player and sports anchor Emmanuel Acho posited in a tweet. “Being the ‘best in the world’ and a world champion are different. One is subjective, one is fact. *Note: you’ve yet to see any non-american NBA players take issue with this sentiment.”


“The N in NBA stands for ‘national’ don’t it? National is a different term than the words ‘world’, ‘international’ and ‘global’ for a reason. Talent level doesn’t even matter in this conversation. Being NBA champs don’t make you world champs, olympic champs, hoop it up champs, or none of that,” former Olympian Michael Hartfield commented on Instagram.

“If the best in the world all play in the local rec league and win, y’all are rec league champions! It’s truly that simple. Ya feelings about truth don’t change the truth. Much love though!”

“Noah Lyles, 6x WORLD CHAMPION said that winners of the NATIONAL basketball association aren’t considered WORLD champions and people are mad?! the education system truly failed. The answer is literally in the name of the organization,” one Twitter user wrote.

Lyles has yet to respond directly to his critics, but he has retweeted people who support his stance. The debate is still raging online.

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