Home > The Scene

Noah Lyles fires back at rapper Drake’s comment

The triple world champion labels the comment from the Canadian rapper as 'weak' during the Diamond League press conference in Zurich

Noah lyles Photo by: Kevin Morris

Though U.S. sprinter Noah Lyles made history at the 2023 World Athletics Championships by becoming only the second man to win gold in the sprint triple (100m, 200m, and 4x100m), his comments about NBA players calling themselves “world champions” after his 200m victory grabbed all the headlines. Many NBA players did not like his comments, and even Toronto rapper Drake chimed in.

Noah Lyles
Noah Lyles sprinting to victory in the men’s 200m at the 2023 World Athletics Championships. Photo: Kevin Morris

β€œHe thought this speech was gonna be so hard in the mirror the night before… Now the whole league (NBA) doesn’t rate you,” Drake commented on Instagram.

During the athlete press conference on Wednesday before Thursday’s Diamond League Zurich, Lyles backed his words and clapped back. “I am a fan of his music, but I am not going to be a fan of that weak comment,” Lyles told Canadian Running in Zurich. “Many people have reached out and said they agree with me. It’s funny because in the U.S., they are against it (my comment)… even when it’s called the ‘National’ Basketball Association.”

The point Lyles was conveying with his comment was that approximately 200 nations were represented at the 2023 World Athletics Championships (with 39 achieving medals), and in the NBA, there are 30 teams with players (mostly from the U.S.) calling themselves world champions, even though flags are not represented.

Famous NBA players Kevin Durant and Aaron Gordon disagreed with the 100m world champion. “Somebody help this brother,” commented former NBA MVP Durant. “Whatever, I am smoking buddy in the 200m,” said Gordon, who has no prior sprint history. 

Lyles arrived in Zurich four days after winning his third gold medal in Budapest, becoming the first man to secure three golds in a single world championship since Usain Bolt accomplished the feat at Worlds in Beijing in 2015. Lyles is set to compete in the 200m in Zurich against the Canadian duo of Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown.

Three Canadians in Zurich

De Grasse continues his season in Zurich, following a sixth-place finish in the 200m final last Friday. “I was happy to be back in the final in Budapest,” De Grasse shared with Canadian Running. As for Brown, he enters the 200m in Zurich seeking redemption. Brown was disqualified in the 200m semi-final due to a lane infraction on the bend. In the relay, it was another heartbreak for Brown, as he was part of the Canadian team that failed to reach the final and defend their 4x100m world title.

Andre De Grasse
Photo: James Rhodes (@jrhdoesathletics)

Brown is determined to leave his disappointment behind in Budapest: “Things happen,” says Brown. “It’s time to regroup and start focusing on the bigger picture [next year’s Olympics].” Brown and De Grasse are hoping to challenge Lyles and the world 100m bronze medallist Zharnel Hughes in the men’s 200m in Zurich at 3:41 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Apart from Brown and De Grasse, Craig Thorne from New Brunswick will be making his Diamond League debut in the men’s 110m hurdles. Thorne holds a personal best of 13.52 seconds and will have the opportunity to test himself against one of the emerging hurdling stars, France’s Sasha Zhoya.

You can catch all the track and field action from Diamond League Zurich online on CBC Sports and CBC Gem, starting at 2:00 p.m. ET Thursday.