By Luke Van BurkeI read for 3 minutes
Noah Lyles won three gold medals at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last week. Still, something wasn’t right with him. “NBA winners are always portrayed as world champions. World champion in what? America? It hurts me because these are the world championships,” Lyles said at a press conference about the track and field world championships.
Few would doubt that the NBA is the strongest basketball league in the world. But are you also a world champion? This is something that is often debated because NBA champions in the US are often referred to as world champions. That doesn’t apply to Lyles, who was allowed to hang three gold medals around his neck this week during the World Athletics Championships. “Don’t get me wrong. I love America at one point. But it’s not the whole world.”
There has been strong opposition to his views from his own country. At least the NBA stars did not react laconically to the statements of the world champion. The likes of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Devin Booker responded with laughter, expressing their displeasure. “Can someone catch him?” Durant responded cynically on Instagram.
NBA stars make Lyles smile
A few NBA stars think Lyles’ comments are bullshit. Damian Lillard, Bobby Portis and Aaron Gordon are also laughable. “Whatever“I’ll knock him out in the 200m sprint,” Gordon responded on Instagram.
And yet Lyles also gets a lot of support. “It shows how Americans see the world,” said NBA analyst Matthijs van den Beukel. “Humility is a foreign currency,” Van den Beukel adds jokingly.
NBA analyst Hank Norrell also backs Lyles. “It’s called National Basketball Association, so they themselves say: This is a national competition. In fact, there should be a rivalry or rivalry between the winner of the EuroLeague, the strongest European league, and the NBA. An NBA team will win 99 times out of 100, but that’s when you can tell.
Van den Buegel agrees with this. “Look, the NBA is a very strong competition, the winner is the strongest team in the world, but not yet the world champion.”
However, such competition still does not provide a definitive answer, both analysts agree. The differences in rules between the rules used by the US NBA and FIBA mean that the game is played completely differently. “Even the size of the field is different. It’s almost a different game,” Norell explains.
“America is not the world champion”
Yet two analysts believe you can’t put it that way. The only Dutchman to have an NBA championship to his name, Francisco Elsen, X – ex on Twitter – said he agreed with the athlete. “Finally someone is telling,” Elson adds.
The World Basketball Championship for Nations is in the hands of the global basketball association FIBA and the tournament is currently underway. The World Cup will be held in Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines this summer. The US team also participates, but sends a selection of young NBA stars like Anthony Edwards, Jar Jackson Jr. and Jalen Brunson. However, the U.S. could send three top coaches from the NBA as technical staff. The team is coached by Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers.
In Southeast Asia, Team USA will try to regain the world title, as the reigning world champion is Spain. At the 2019 World Cup, USA was knocked out by France in the quarterfinals.
“So they have to win back that world title first,” Norell says. “America is not the world champion, Spain is.”
Only during the Olympics does the United States send the strongest possible team to a country competition. The basketball nation has continued to send great NBA players since the 1994 Barcelona Games featured the Dream Team of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen. Almost all Olympic basketball medals have been won since then. It was in 2004 that the mistake happened. At the Athens Games, Team USA lost to Argentina in the semifinals and eventually had to settle for bronze.
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