© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

The hip-hop entertainer, Drake, a verbose Canadian basketball fan called out American sprinter Noah Lyles about his statement that the NBA Championships is not the World Championships. Lyles spoke at a post-race media conference indicating that the World Athletics Championships are truly a global championships.

“I watch the NBA finals and they have ‘world champions’ on their head. World champion of what? The United States?

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the US, 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 aren’t any flags in the NBA! We’ve got to do more, we’ve got to be presented to the world.”

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, 186 of 195 countries participated in the 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships. All were invited to compete save for Russia and Belarus for the illegal war in Ukraine. The NBA is made up of 30 teams, 29 of which represent a city in the U.S., and one in Canada. Although athletes from around the world are welcome to play in the NBA, if they are good enough, the NBA Championships is essentially a league championship. With Toronto in the league, it could be argued that it is a North American Championships, but that is a misnomer. For the NBA Championships to be a North American Championships, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. would participate in the three-team tournament. Therefore the NBA indeed hosts a league championships, nothing more.

Major League Baseball refers to the league championships as the World Series. By the very same token, it is not. At least the National Hockey League has the good graces to refer to its championships as the Stanley Cup Championships, named after Lord Stanley’s trophy. The National Football League refers to its league championships as the Super Bowl.

Kevin Durant, Bam Adebayo, Austin Rivers and Aaron Gordon chime in

NBA players responded to Lyles’ comments, including Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant and Denver Nuggets’ Aaron Gordon.

Durant said, “Somebody help this brother.”

Gordon, “Whatever… I’m smoking buddy in the 200m.”

Miami Heat Bam Adebayo added, “Lol is somebody going to tell him.”

Austin Rivers dug himself a grandstanding hole of inaccuracy saying, “Simply put. Best players in the world play in the league. So… winning a NBA championship qualifies as world champs. [I don’t know] what’s more cringe, his comment or his voice and delivery.”

Sorry, Rivers, you are wrong, let’s spell it out — read slowly. Lyles competed for the U.S. against Jamaican athletes representing the country of Jamaica. There were also the countries of Great Britain, Canada, Botswana, Dominican Republic and Liberia in the 200-metre final that Lyles won. Likewise, Japan and Kenya were also in the 100m final, which Lyles also won.

In contrast, the Detroit Pistons playing against the Los Angeles Lakes, for example, are two cities, within one country. Not a World Championships.

International Basketball Federation (FIBA)

The FIBA Basketball World Cup is the World Championships. FIBA is the sport’s global governing body — not the NBA. The World Cup takes place every four years and is considered its flagship event.

From 1950 to 2010, the tournament was known as the FIBA World Championship.

The tournament structure is similar, to the FIFA World Cup. The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation. The winning team receives the Naismith Trophy, first awarded in 1967. The Naismith Trophy is named after James Naismith, the inventor of basketball in 1891. The game of basketball was invented in Canada, not the U.S.

Yes, the NBA has 120 international players from 40 countries, however, those players do not represent their country, they represent the professional team in the U.S. or Canada. Toronto carries the most international athletes on their roster with eight.

Good for Noah Lyles to call out the NBA for their harmless misnomer. His statement that it “bothers me the most,” may be hyperbole, but its good for the sport. The World Athletics President Sebastian Coe should send him an autographed golden spike kicking a basketball for his gesture.