Josh Kerr Responds to Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Noah Lyles Responds to NBAers, & Mondo vs Warholm at 100m?

ZURICH — In the United States, Noah Lylescomments about his frustration over NBA players calling themselves “world champions” when they win the NBA Finals has drawn more attention than his heroics at last week’s World Athletics Championships in Budapest, where he became the first man since Usain Bolt in 2015 to take gold in the 100, 200, and 4×100 relay. Such is the status of track & field in the US. Outside of the Olympics, it’s only a big deal when it can be tied in to a truly popular sport like basketball.

In the five days since Lyles made those comments, no shortage of NBA stars have weighed in with their own opinions. Responding to an ESPN Instagram post, Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant wrote “Somebody help this brother.” The Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green and Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard offered similar sentiments while Aaron Gordon, who just won the NBA title with the Denver Nuggets in June, said he’d “smoke” Lyles in a 200.

Lyles was asked before his appearance at Thursday’s Weltklasse Zurich meet whether any NBA players had reached out to him about his statement. He said that none of the players who were critical of him — largely Americans — had reached out, but some international players knew where he was coming from.

“From the world side, I’ve gotten a lot of support,” Lyles said. “I know actually quite a few basketball players because my massage therapist works on them. She’s actually working with the French team right now at the World [Cup] and a lot of them have the same idea as me. When they go back home, their countries aren’t celebrating them as world champions, they’re celebrating them as NBA champions.

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“I’ve gotten a lot of football players as well be like, Hey man…I agree with you 100%. It’s funny because in the US, they’re against it, but when you look at the whole world, it’s like oh, wow, a lot of people agree with what I said.”

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Both sides have a point here. The NBA is the best league in the world; no one would argue that the NBA champions are not the best (club) team in the world. But they don’t compete for a world championship like Lyles does. If the Denver Nuggets are the world champions, what does that make the winner of the FIBA World Cup, currently being staged in the Philippines?

Well one of the players competing there actually has the best take on this whole situation. After France’s win over Lebanon at the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday, French guard Evan Fournier, who plays for the New York Knicks, told ESPN the following:

“I think it’s the point of view of a lot of Americans that when they win at home, since it’s the best championship in the world, automatically you’re a world champ. I can understand that point of view but I agree that it should be just NBA champ, personally.

“If you participate in the World Cup or even the Olympics and you win, you have a right to call yourself world champion. The way I look at it is NBA champions, for sure, they’re the best team, but it’s just a title. It’s not that big a deal. It’s just a title. But for him to say that, I understand where he’s coming from because he’s an athlete and he just won world titles.”

Perfect. And just so there’s no misunderstanding, when Fournier says NBA champions is “just a title” and “not that big a deal,” he seems to be talking about the title attached to the accomplishment and not the accomplishment itself (which is obviously a huge deal).

Lyles was one of eight newly-crowned world champions at the pre-Weltklasse press conference on Wednesday. Here are a few highlights from the others, including Josh Kerr‘s response to Jakob Ingebrigtsen‘s “just the next guy” comment and the chances of us seeing a Karsten Warholm vs. Mondo Duplantis match race at 100 meters.

Is it fair for the NBA champs to consider themselves to be "world champions?"

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Josh Kerr responds to Ingebrigtsen: “I still have the World Championship gold medal”

On Sunday night, after repeating as 5,000-meter world champion in Budapest, Jakob Ingebrigtsen was asked by a British journalist whether he would try to race Kerr again to avenge his 1500 defeat in Budapest. Ingebrigtsen, who said he was not at 100% in Budapest due to illness, responded by saying Kerr was “just the next guy.”

“If I hadn’t run in the final, he would probably have won,” Ingebrigtsen said. “That’s how I see the race. Obviously if you stumble or fall then someone is going to win the race and he was just the next guy.”

Kerr is running Zurich (Ingebrigtsen is not, though they may meet again in the Diamond League final) and when asked for his thoughts on Ingebrigtsen’s comments, he took the high road.

“Emotions are high in the media,” Kerr said. “I know he wanted the 1500 title and the 5k field seemed to not realize he’d run three rounds and kind of wanted to make it slow for some reason. But he can be disrespectful to me, that’s fine, I still have the World Championship gold medal and I’m going to be the world champion for the next two years regardless of his comments. Obviously don’t love disrespectful comments and I’ve worked hard to get into this position and I beat him on the day. But if that’s the kind of route he wants to go down, that’s fine with me, I’m kind of unbothered by it.”

That said, the Instagram page for Sit & Kick – the podcast Kerr co-hosts with former Brooks Beasts teammate David Ribich – did post a number of memes mocking Jakob after Kerr’s upset (it’s unclear how much input, if any, Kerr had into those posts).

While many viewed Ingebrigtsen’s comments on Sunday as disrespectful, it must be remembered that in his immediate post-race comments following his 1500 loss on Wednesday, Ingebrigtsen started off by praising Kerr: “All credit to Kerr, he did a good race.”

Ingebrigtsen’s comments after the 5000 are in keeping with Ingebrigtsen’s approach to the sport. Jakob doesn’t just think he’s the best — he says it out loud, consistently. Most of the time, it’s true. That confidence — some would say arrogance — is part of what makes Ingebrigtsen such a compelling character. But Jakob, more than most athletes, should know just how hard it is to win a gold medal in the 1500 meters. The world champion is not just “the next guy” — even when the pre-race favorite is not 100% healthy.

Talk about Ker and Ingebrigtsen on the messageboard:

Warholm vs. Mondo at 100m needs to happen

Prior to the Monaco Diamond League in July, Athletics HQ shared a one-minute clip of Karsten Warholm and Mondo Duplantis talking about the possibility of racing each other over 100 meters. It’s a fun idea. Both are the undisputed kings of their events, both of which require a good amount of speed. But neither has run a 100 for years — Warholm’s pb of 10.49 dates from 2017, while Mondo ran 10.57 (with a +2.1 wind) as a high school senior in 2018.

I asked the two world record holders what the chances were of them actually getting together and racing a 100, one-on-one, and it produced one of the most entertaining back-and-forths I’ve ever seen at a press conference. Clearly, it’s a topic that excites both of them. You can either click the link below (cued up to the exchange) to see it in its entirety or read the highlights below.

Duplantis: It’s something that I would like to do and I would like to just see where I’m and to run a 100 because I feel like I do enough sprint training where it would be fun to see where I’m at.

Warholm: I’m a bit mixed about it because probably people think that I can run super fast. I don’t think I will see the number 9 on the clock. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve run the 100 meters and I know it’s the same with you so it would be just fun. Actually, it would be a great matchup. I would really like it to happen. The only thing that I really want it to be is I want it for both of us to be at a time where we feel like we can do it good actually and it’s a fun challenge. It’s not like woah, someone pulled his hamstring right before Olympics. That is no good. So we need to find the right timing but I think both of us are definitely down. We are not guys to dodge the competition.

Duplantis: When I first suggested it to him, he blew me off a little bit as far as thinking it would be a competition or not. Now he’s acting like it would be a great competition on the mic. But when I first suggested it to him, he was kind of like, oh okay, you really think you can beat me? All right, whatever. That was more the vibe that I got.

Warholm: This is what I always do to level the playing field. Now I’m applying the pressure to you and you need to feel some of the nerves as well. But of course, I think you would never challenge me if you didn’t think you had a fair chance of winning, and I wouldn’t accept if I thought that I was going to embarrass you. So I think actually it would be a good match–

At this point, Noah Lyles, sitting to their right, has had enough and interjects.

Lyles: Just say you’re better than him. Oh my gosh, all this twinkle-toeing around!

Warholm: We’re not Americans, okay!

Lyles was then asked by moderator Colin Jackson who he would bet on if the two actually raced.

Lyles: Well you (pointing to Warholm) know how to use blocks. I’ve never seen you (pointing to Duplantis) in blocks. I think I’m going to put my money on Karsten right here, just for that simple reason. Because you have to use blocks.

Duplantis then explains that he was planning on practicing blocks before the race.

Duplantis: I’m aware that going into the race, I am going to be a tad bit of an underdog. I think I’m going to surprise some people and open some minds.

Warholm: Let’s be honest, I have a lot more to lose than you.

Duplantis: Yes. And that’s nice.

Warholm: It’s gonna happen.

Who wins the WR 100m showdown?

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Who do you think would win? Talk about it on our world-famous messageboard: MB: Mondo vs Warholm at 100m – Who you got? The two stars have basically agreed to race after we asked them about it

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