"Don’t get me wrong. I love the U.S., at times — but that ain’t the world," Lyles said after winning gold at the track and field world championships in Hungary
Olympian Noah Lyles caught the attention of several NBA stars and basketball superfan Drake with comments he made during a press conference on Friday.
Lyles, 26, questioned the validity of the NBA's "world champions" title while addressing the media after his three gold medal wins at the track and field World Athletics championships in Budapest, Hungary.
His remarks came in response to a question about how track and field could grow its popularity, according to USA Today. Lyles replied, "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 questioned, "World champion of what? The United States?" during the address.
"Don’t get me wrong. I love the U.S., at times — but that ain’t the world," he continued. "That is not the world. We [track and field] are the world. 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."
The comments went viral on social media and NBA champions like Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, who have both won titles with the Golden State Warriors, were quick to call out Lyles' remarks.
"Somebody better help this brother," Durant, 34, wrote in a comment on ESPN's post about Lyles' conference.
Green, 33, commented, "When being smart goes wrong," shortly after Durant.
Other notable names in the NBA who took issue with the statement include Damian Lillard, PJ Tucker, Bam Adebayo and Aaron Gordon, who earned his first championship with the Denver Nuggets in June.
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker kept his reaction simple, leaving a face-palm emoji in the comments alongside his peers.
NFL player Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers weighed in via ESPN's comments. “'Hurts me the most “ is crazy," Armstead, 29, wrote.
Even superstar rapper, and diehard NBA fan, Drake jumped in on the debate.
According to DJ Akademiks, the Search & Rescue rapper wrote, "He thought this speech was gonna be so hard in the mirror the night before… now the whole league doesn’t rate u," with a handful of laughing emojis.
Most critics who took issue with Lyles' comments argue that because the NBA employs the greatest players worldwide to compete in the American league, the association is ultimately a world league.
The NBA has seen a significant increase in popularity and success for its' international stars, with players like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic quickly becoming faces of the league.
Lyles, meanwhile has the fourth-fastest 200-meter time ever recorded worldwide, behind just Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, both from Jamaica. Lyles, from Florida, took home three gold medals at the World Athletics championships this week, in the 100-meter, 200-meter and the 4 x 100-meter relay as part of Team USA.
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