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Noah Lyles questioned the NBA 'world champions' label. Everyone had thoughts

Noah Lyles celebrates after anchoring the USA team to victory in the men's 4x100m relay final during the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest on August 26.
Andrej Isakovic
/
AFP via Getty Images
Noah Lyles celebrates after anchoring the USA team to victory in the men's 4x100m relay final during the World Athletics Championships at the National Athletics Centre in Budapest on August 26.

When track and field star Noah Lyles questioned why people refer to NBA title winners as "world champions," everyone from Drake to Kevin Durant rushed to have their say. One analyst says it's a case study in American exceptionalism.

Who is he? Lyles is a 26-year-old track and field athlete from the United States.

  • Last week, he won multiple events at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary — including the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
  • He was the first man to take home both titles since Usain Bolt in 2015.


What's the big deal? There has been a lot of attention paid to Lyles since — but not for his wins.

  • At a post-meet press conference, Lyles was asked about how to grow or improve his sport, to which he replied:

  • The comments generated plenty of takes from every corner of the internet. A number of basketball players took offense and made it known via Instagram comments, while other international sports fans thought Lyle had the right idea.


Want more sports journalism? Listen to the Consider This episode on whether Lionel Messi will change Major League Soccer's rep.


What are people saying? Lots.

Kevin Durant took to the Instagram comment section to say, "Somebody help this brother." Draymond Green wrote, "When being smart goes wrong." And even Drake also gave his two cents:

Gary Al-Smith, a sports journalist who focuses on African sports, told NPR he "never thought an American athlete would be so open minded." Here's Al-Smith on why many other countries share Lyles' sentiment:

And here's Al-Smith on how American exceptionalism finds its way into athletics:

So, what now?

  • NPR sought an interview with Lyles but did not hear back by time of publication. But his X account shows him reposting those defending his stance.
  • And the track star thinks that in order to help his sport grow, they've got to flaunt how inclusive they are in comparison to many others: "We've got to be presented to the world."


Learn more:

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.