The issue of whether the NBA champions should be called “world champions” is all the talk in the league right now. US track star Noah Lyles is at the center of the controversy after he took issue with the label since the NBA is only based in the US (with one team in Canada). While several players disagree with him, though, he might have a supporter in one prominent figurehead in the league: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Amid the buzz that Lyles created, an old statement from Coach Pop went viral. Apparently, the Spurs tactician said the same thing as Lyles over 13 years ago. In fact, some might assume that Lyles got the idea of his “world champions” criticism from Popovich himself.
“It doesn't make sense for an NBA team to call themselves World Champions. I don't remember anybody playing outside our borders to get that tag,” Pop said at the time, per Bleacher Report.
Pop gave his thoughts on calling NBA champions "World Champions" in 2010 👀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 29, 2023
Now it's worth noting that it has been over a decade since Gregg Popovich made the remarks. With that said, we're not sure if he still has the same stance or not. After all, the NBA is vastly different today from where it is in 2010. Not only has the talent level risen, but there is no denying that the Association is a true global league where the best of the best from each continent play.
If Coach Pop maintains the same stance, though, he'll probably meet some strong opposition from his peers in the NBA. As Noah Lyles himself has learned, superstars in the league won't let it slip past them any bizarre criticism to the league.
NBA stars slam Noah Lyles for NBA Championship Take
For those who missed it, Lyles went viral after he blasted the NBA for calling its title winners “World Champions.” While it has been an old debate–as proven by the fact that Coach Pop talked about it a decade ago–the way Lyles mocked the league certainly didn't sit well with a lot of players.
“I have to watch the NBA finals and they have world champion on their heads. World champion of what? The United States? Don't get me wrong. I love the US at times. But that ain't the world,” Lyles said.
“Somebody help this brother,” Durant wrote on social media while responding to Lyles' remarks. His Suns teammate Booker could only comment a facepalm emoji in disbelief.
“When being smart goes wrong,” Green added. Meanwhile, Gordon said: “Whatever… I’m smoking buddy in the 200m.”
Even Drake and Stephen A. Smith took issue with Lyles' statement. The veteran broadcaster and sports analyst said, “He just came across as flagrantly ignorant.”
As for Drake, the rapper and massive NBA fan didn't hold back as he mocked Lyles who is now the subject of ridicule in the basketball world.
“He [Noah Lyles] thought this speech was gonna be so hard in the mirror the night before…now the whole league doesn't rate [yo]u,” Drake wrote.
Lyles has yet to respond to all the criticisms, but he'll certainly want to issue a statement since it's unlikely the issue will stop any time soon. Hey, maybe he can use the statement from Gregg Popovich to emphasize and make his point once again.