Noah Lyles Questions NBA’s “World Champions” Label: A Case Study in American Exceptionalism

Noah Lyles

Noah Lyles Questions NBA’s “World Champions Label: Noah Lyles, the 26-year-old track and field sensation from the United States, recently made headlines not just for his remarkable victories at the World Athletics Championships but for a thought-provoking question he posed. Lyles questioned why NBA title winners are referred to as “world champions,” sparking a heated debate across social media. In this article, we delve into Noah Lyles’ perspective on this matter and explore the implications of American exceptionalism in sports.

Noah Lyles: A Brief Profile

Noah Lyles, known for his incredible speed and athleticism, made waves at the World Athletics Championships held in Budapest, Hungary. He secured victories in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, becoming the first athlete to achieve this double triumph since the legendary Usain Bolt in 2015.

Lyles Challenges the “World Champions” Label

What caught everyone’s attention, however, was Lyles’ candid question during a post-meet press conference. When asked about improving the track and field sport, Lyles responded with a question of his own: “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. World champion of what? The United States? Don’t get me wrong. I love the U.S., at times, but that ain’t the world. That is not the world. We 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 Internet Reacts: From NBA Stars to International Sports Fans

Lyles’ comments ignited a passionate debate online. Many NBA players took offense and voiced their disagreement through Instagram comments. On the other hand, international sports enthusiasts supported Lyles’ perspective.

Gary Al-Smith, a sports journalist focusing on African sports, expressed his surprise, stating, “I never thought an American athlete would be so open-minded.” He highlighted that many Americans believe that the NBA champions are the world champions because the league attracts top talents from around the globe.

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American Exceptionalism in Athletics

According to Al-Smith, American exceptionalism plays a significant role in this perception. He explained, “American exceptionalism gave self-confidence to Americans in any sphere of endeavor to make them believe that if you are American and you are good at what you do, you can make it anywhere.” This mentality extends to athletics, where American athletes often exude a sense of superiority due to their domestic success.

He further added, “Stuff like that comes to athletics as well because American athletes always come with an air of, ‘We are good because we are the best in America.’ And to be fair, I mean, America is a continent, isn’t it? So if you are the best at what you do in America, most likely you will be among the best in the world, most likely most of the time.”

Noah Lyles’ Vision for Track and Field

Lyles believes that to help track and field grow, the sport must emphasize its inclusivity on a global scale. By showcasing the diversity of athletes and countries represented, track and field can assert its position as a truly international sport.


Noah Lyles’ question about the “world champions” label in the NBA has sparked a meaningful conversation about American exceptionalism in sports. While opinions vary, Lyles’ perspective highlights the importance of acknowledging the global nature of sports and the need for inclusivity in all athletic endeavors. As Lyles continues to excel on the track, his voice in these discussions will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on the world of sports.

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