Noah Lyles takes something of a victory lap on Friday after the U.S. was upset by Germany in the FIBA World Cup semifinals.
The American sprinter received a lot of criticism from NBA players and fans last month for a comment he made after winning his third world championship in the men’s 200-meter dash.
Now, Lyles is giving some of that criticism back to the basketball community following Team USA’s surprising loss.
Lyles retweeted a post (and later untweeted), who combined the final result of that game with a meme in which he, with an incredulous expression on his face, recited his now-famous line: “World champion of what?”
Many others posted similar memes in support of Lyles and/or to poke fun at a U.S. team that had been a gold medal favorite.
The quote was part of Lyles’ response to a question about the state of athletics. He spoke at length about his frustration with the lack of attention from some of the sport’s stars, even after proving themselves against the best competition in the world.
“You know what hurts me the most is that I have to watch the NBA Finals and they have the ‘World Champion’ on their head,” said Lyles, who also won gold in the men’s 100-meter dash at the event and won in the 4×100 meter relay. “World champion of what? The United States? Do not get me wrong. I love the USA – sometimes – but that’s not the world. This is not the world. We are the World. Almost every country out here is fighting, thriving and flying their flag to show they are represented. There are no flags in the NBA. We have to do more. We need to be presented to the world.”
Numerous NBA stars – including Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Aaron Gordon, Tyus Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Udonis Haslem – took to social media to express their displeasure with Lyles’ comments bring and point out that the NBA has the best talent in the world and the USA won Olympic gold in 2020.
The German team consists of four NBA players (Dennis Schröder from the Toronto Raptors, Daniel Theis from the Indiana Pacers and Franz and Moritz Wagner from the Orlando Magic). The USA has a dozen NBA players on its roster. After Friday’s result, the team with fewer NBA players still has a chance of winning the world championship.