Seemingly Standing Against NBA World, Shaquille O’Neal Silent Endorsement Could Save Noah Lyles

Published 08/29/2023, 8:13 PM EDT

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Is an NBA champion also a world champion? These questions are triggered by Noah Lyles giving the NBA an earful. He found it bewildering that NBA players and teams label themselves as world champions. As a winning international athlete who competes globally, his question has divided many voices. The criticism from the NBA players has been scathing, but his comments may have some backers. 

Shaquille O’Neal seems to back the ideas of Lyles.

Noah Lyles enrages NBA athletes


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In the press conference, after his hat-trick of gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 4×100 m relay during the World Athletics Competition, the athlete laid out his thoughts. 

He stated, ”You know, the things that hurts me the most and they have the world champion on their head. World Champion of what? The United States? Don’t get me wrong, I love USA at times, but that ain’t the world. We are the world. We have every country out here fighting, thriving, putting on their flag to show that they are presented. There ain’t no flags in the NBA”.


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It didn’t take long for the NBA players to respond. One of the sternest replies came from Kevin Durant, who mocked the track and field star, saying, ”Somebody help this brother”. 

Even Drake gave his piece, declaring, ”He thought this speech was gonna be so hard in the mirror the night before … now the whole league doesn’t rate u”.

Many NBA players thrashed him and the responses usually were full of mockery. It was clear that his comments didn’t sit well with them. It is transparent that the NBA champions and the players competing there do believe that those who win the title are the world champions.


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In a counter-argument, Spurs‘ Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s 13-year-old comments started to make rounds.

Is Shaquille O’Neal backing Lyles and Pop?


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Gregg Popovich in 2010 had said, ”It doesn’t make sense for an NBA team to call themselves world champions. I don’t remember anybody playing anybody outside our borders to get the tag”. These thoughts are in line with what the racing maestro said a few days ago. 

In this wake, Shaquille O’Neal posted a story, which links to what Gregg Popovich said. This has now sparked a lot of intrigue. The four-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP seem to back Lyles and Pop’s notions. While he didn’t make a comment, sharing Pop’s thoughts says a lot about the whole situation. 


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Do you support the aligned views of Pop, Lyles, and presumably Shaq about the subject? Do share in the comments below.

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Written by:

Shubham Singh


One take at a time

Shubham is an NBA Writer at Essentially Sports. He became a fan of the NBA in late 2000s and his interest skyrocketed after Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in Six Games during 2011 NBA Finals. He loves looking into playing styles of different players and teams while also trying to analyse what circumstances shape a typical NBA game.
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Edited by:

Sameen Nawathe