Monday, March 29th, 2010 at 10:00 am  |  71 responses

Gregg Popovich Hates the Term ‘World Champions’

Pop truly is the best, as the Boston Herald reveals: “The Spurs coach isn’t disputing any of Bill Russell’s titles, and he isn’t saying the Lakers actually beat the Celts in 2008. But he is a bit perturbed by the use of the word ‘world.’ ‘There are no world champions in the NBA, so anybody that has the flag up that says world champions is not correct,’ said Popovich prior to last night’s 94-73 Spurs win. ‘It’s not appropriate. The world champions, I believe, are the Spanish team right now. USA is the Olympic champion. The Lakers are the NBA champion. 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 that tag. Isn’t that true? I keep waiting for somebody to tell me I’ve missed something.’ When someone mentioned Toronto, Pop said, ‘There’s a team in Canada. That’s true. The world’s bigger than North America. I know sometimes we as arrogant Americans don’t respond to the rest of the world, but it’s true. There’s a big world out there.’”

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  • http://gmail dirty frank

    Thank you Pops. It’s been said for years but nice to have someone in his position say it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Yea, I was pretty confused the first time I saw that term.

  • http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3445/3357407353_c868c2d95c.jpg larrylegend

    right statement, wrong person!

  • JoeMaMa

    Arrest him. That hippie is more un-American than the merchandise in a Walmart!

  • http://theghostofroyhobbs.blogspot.com Mo Charlo

    Pop will never stop coming up with new and inventive ways to pee in people’s cheerios. Oh, and he’s right.

  • riggs

    how is the spanish team world champions but the olympic team isnt? am i wrong or didnt the spanish team lose in the olympics?

  • http://thekobebeef.wordpress.com LDR4

    NBA Champions, we all know they are not world champions. Could the Lakers beat Spain? Not a chance. They took the Redeem Team down to the wire. As far as I’m concerned the only American sports league that can claim its champion a world champion is the NFL. Hardly any other countries play football and I’m fairly certain a Euro team or one from the CFL couldn’t beat the NFL champs. The NBA should drop the whole world champion bit. I know Stern is craving to expand overseas so maybe in 20-50 years world champion would be more appropriate…but I guess at that point it wouldn’t be called the National Basketball Association.

  • JoeMaMa

    btw, I recently won a three on three game and declared myself “Champion of the universe”. Take your pithy world title, ess-pan-e-oles.

  • underdog

    Well said, Pop.

  • T-Money

    LDR4: In a one-off game the NBA Champs would probably fare better against any national team than the Dream Team could. It’s all about cohesiveness. But that’s besides the point. It doesn’t matter how strong or weak the NBA Champs are, they’re not playing against the rest of the worl, therefore they shouldn’t be dubbed world champions. Same thing with the ‘World Series’.

  • Pau


    The Olympics and the World Championship are different competitions. Spain won the last World Championship, in Japan, destroying Greece in the final (BTW; Greece won against USA in the semifinals)

    This summer there’s going to be another World Championship, this time in Turkey.

  • http://slamonline.com CB 34

    riggs: Spain are the world champions because they won the world championships. It’s different from the olympics but the countries use the same team they field in the olympics. It’s the only other tournament that matters aside from the olympics in basketball.

  • http://slamonline.com MooButter

    I agree. Same with baseball.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    Pop’s right – glad he said it. It would be great to have some sort of tournament (ala march madness) between the various league champions to make a real ‘world League champion’ or something like that(versus a world champion because world champions already exist). I’ve neer liked the idea of MLB or NBA calling themselves world champions when ‘all’ they’ve done is win thier league/association. At least the Soccer World Cup is authentic.

  • http://theurbangriot.com/ NUPE

    I think Pop’s right – glad he said it. It would be great to have some sort of tournament (ala march madness) between the various league champions to make a real ‘world League champion’ or something like that(versus a world champion because world champions already exist). I’ve neer liked the idea of MLB or NBA calling themselves world champions when ‘all’ they’ve done is win thier league/association. At least the Soccer World Cup is authentic.

  • http://slamonline.com d.j.

    couldn’t agree more with pop !

  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to Uwe Blab and his family.

  • LA Huey

    co-sign Pop. He’s been saying this for years.

  • kwame

    i agree with that…but it also applies to football and baseball…its definitely not a “world” series

  • whooo!

    Pop is great at speaking his mind. it should be noted that the Spurs actually changed all their banners to say “NBA Champions”. i love how he said, “the world is bigger than America.”

  • http://www.slamonline.com Pardeep


  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to Johnny Moore.

  • JD

    He’s really got a point, it is arrogant that Americans do that with American Football and Baseball, Americans are pretty arrogant

  • rashado

    pops says this like once a year, around this time. he’s right tho

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    he is right. And I thought he just hated to see- * 1999 shortened-season champs.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    he is right. And I thought he just hated to see- * 1999 shortened-season champs.

  • http://slamonline BossTerry

    sorry for the double-up.

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    hes totally right..Pop´s a smart dude, and whoever got the idea to say NBA champions are world champions is not that bright

  • mike

    celtic’s legacy still > than your spur’s legacy…sorry pop

  • http://www.euroleague.net/competition/all-decade/main-page/i/64902/4259/euroleague-all-decade-selection-theodoros-papaloukas?lang=en&itemid=64902&mid=4259&tabid=1143&itemname=EUROLEAGU PAPALOUKAS (click on my name)

    come on, even a kid can figure this out…oh, wait, riggs..???!!!! Don’t worry my little one,i am sure there are others in the kindergarden saring the same idea (Eboy,tadone,hursty,tavorisjukai,tariq,etc) it’s just that they are afraid to get ridiculed again…

  • Th3_R3al_Chris

    The 2008 Celtics would have beat Spain. More importantly, though, is the fact that this has already been covered a few years ago when Spurs faced the Lakers, I believe when they were on their way to winning in 2007.

  • http://www.michaelcho.com M Cho

    Pop’s said this several times before, and its been reported several times before.

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com/ ClutchPerformer

    hes right, what we should have is a super league, combine NBA with Euro leagues and the Asian leagues, it will help them get better promotion and revenue, and then you can truly say you are the World Champ, but honestly pitting Spain against an NBA isnt fair because your taking you countries best, and some of your countries best could be on the NBAs best team, the Spurs Come to mind, with Parker and Manu. put your best Euroleague team Vs. Best NBA and thats a more Ideal match up, although we know the NBA slaughters them and NBA plays its reserves towards the end of the game, if you wanna play Spain then Go USA against them and in that case you get a repeat of the Last Olympics, where USA took it, Im canadian so im not just some american who doesnt see the outside world. but USA does have this we are better and dont care about the rest of the world attitude, just look at how you treat and think of us you closer trading partner and partner for all most everything else

  • Kendrick is God

    bout time someone sees it, its just another thing that paints americans as incredibly ignorant to me but im sure your’e loveley people.

  • DrJ

    Anybody remembers McDonalds tourneys (not sure that’s correct name of it) in the 90′s and early 00′s held mostly in Europe? Buls, Lakers, Celtics were all over here playing against some elite European clubs, best Asian clubs, maybe even a team from Down Under. Of course, NBA teams usually won with ease but becoming a winner of this tournament, I believe, justifies the name World Champion. Pity, such thing doesn’t exist anymore, probably wasn’t generating enough profit, and 2 things that don’t come together in Europe are BASKETBALL and PROFITABLE…

  • DrJ

    taken from wiki: The McDonald’s Championship was discontinued after 1999, but the FIBA World Club Championship is set to open in 2010 and will be similarly contested by all the continental champions. Although no team from the NBA will be invited in 2010, FIBA intends to invite the NBA winner in subsequent years.[1]

  • whalleywhat

    Coincidentally, the Spurs have zero chance of becoming World Champions this year. Coincidentally…

  • The Philosopher

    Shout out to Caldwell Jones.

  • http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:OzhW3M1GBSKkgM:http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    @whalley what – ZING!

  • http://slamonline.com jamaal 16

    I figured they use world because the best players in the world play here just like baseball

  • Ben

    Greg Popovich doesn’t actually exist.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com Michael NZ

    Yep Popovich is 100% right. Stupid arrogance calls the NBA title winner the ‘World Champion’.

  • mike

    NBA is the best league in the world…

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    fcuking love Pop. “arrogrant americans don’t respond to the rest of the world”. priceless.

  • http://www.nba.com/suns Salient

    You know, it’s easy to dislike Pops, being a suns fan and all – it’s even harder to disagree with him though on matters such as this.

  • Ronald

    The thing is only a few teams call themselves “World Champions”. There’s a multitude of variations of this, NBA World Champions etc., used on the banners

  • BackInBlack

    Good for him

  • nastierthanu

    First I will start off by saying without a world cup style tournament or a ncaa tournament format its not applicable to label the nba champs “world champs”. Howeva I have always believed that the nba champ should send that squad to the olympics. Dream teams are nice and all but gimmee a squad that has familiarity and cohesion. Scoring off in bounds plays, traps and presses. Guys who know their roles and are comfortable in those roles. I believe under those circumstances whatever team who won the nba crown would earn the title “world champ”. For u haters if there are any foreign players on the nba champ squad fill them with all star caliber ballers in that spot I.e. Pau gasol is out and d12 with bynum backing up for his knowledge of the triangle

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    POP IS THE FREAKING MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SPEAK MAN, SPEAK!

  • http://myspace.com/weezyleezy337 GametimeWeezy

    Pop is the man but he’s going to hate the word Champion this year cuz its not gonna be them. Unless Tim Duncan start gettin his usual gangsta playoff self.

  • http://IJustWantMyNameToLookBig.com Chukaz

    America = the world. thought ya’ll knew that

  • http://IJustWantMyNameToLookBig.com Chukaz

    actually America don’t = the world, but America does own it so…

  • http://www.yougotdunkedon.com LilKDub503

    Hey, at least Little League has it right. That is truly a World Series, and the Chula Vista boys are the “World Champions.” Although, I find it a little disconcerting that the US insists on having their own tournament, and forcing all the other countries to play in their tournament.

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com Hoopistani

    cosign popovich

  • http://www.jewelzlopez.com -Mas-

    I was just thinking that same thought about Baseball and their “World Series” It would be nice to have the Best Team in North America go at it versus the Best Teams of Asia and Latin America. Then figure out who’s the World Champion of the Year. Same goes for Basketball. Why doesn’t the NBA Champion face the winner of the EuroLeague? David Stern would be truly afraid of the possibility of FC Barcelona with Rubio and Navarro putting a beat down on Kobe’s bunch or LeBron’s crew. Good job coach!

  • http://www.jewelzlopez.com -Mas-

    And to Chukaz: China owns the United States of America so….. go figure.

  • http://www.jewelzlopez.com -Mas-

    To Chukaz: China owns the United States of America so…… what do we do now?

  • Taisen

    to Chukaz : you simply don’t know…

  • http://www.artvandelayindustries.com Art Vandelay

    (stands up, applauds)

  • http://www.another48minutes.com Gerard Himself

    @mike: the NBA might be the best league in the world, but that doesn’t make it right. Take a look at football… wait, I’ll call it soccer because if I don’t Americans won’t understand. Let’s say, for example, the Spanish soccer League is the best one in the word. if FC Barcelona wins the championship in Spain, and call themselves world champions, that doesn’t make any sense, does it? So saying “the nba is the best league in the world” doesn’t make it right to call the champion the world champion.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariqُُ

    Spanna Kournikova:
    I agree.

  • 6marjons

    i’ve been wanting someone to say this in the NBA for so long, world champions is a stupid term, used by all major american sports and it needs to be stopped to be perfectly honest, i’m not disputing the fact the the nba champions would probably have a very good shot at beating other professional championship teams around the world but it shouldn’t be included until they do so

  • http://psp2423@yahoo.com 323 478 1884

    HE is just mad because his team is not championship contnder to win and become the world champions

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  • Stefan

    Spain are the world champions, the U.S are the olympic champions, you don’t become a w-o-r-l-d champion by winning the olympics, you have to win the world championships, clue is in the title.

  • Vin

    I agree, the Notational Basketball League is just that, a NATIONAL competition! Where do you see any other team from the world? Europe, Asia-Pacific? No so get rid of the title. Same goes for the NFL and the MLB. Its funny though the NHL dont do this… and its only North American based. The other 3 leagues should take a leaf out of their book.

    I’m from Australia – we have a few sports no one else plays in the world. Our football AFL – we dont call our winners World Champs – we call them the Premiers. We dont play American Football, nor Ice Hockey, our baseball league is minuscule as is our basketball leagues. Americans dont compete against us so you cant claim you’re world champs.

    Football or Soccer is probably the only true world game for team sports. Hence why its called the world game. Even in the Euro Championships and Champions League and UEFA Cups and Europa League any club from Europe would destroy any MLS team with their eyes closed. But only in the World Cup do you hear the title World Champions, in every other European Championships they become just that, European Champions.

    Get rid of the title – America does not equal the center of th universe.

  • http://bangoy29@aol.com Araceli B. Montes

    NBA Champions are not world champions.
    NBA means ‘National’ – National Basketball Association.
    World champions in basketball only come from the Olympics!
    It’s a good thing the IOC is not suing those people who are calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’.
    It is simply an ‘American ego’ in calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’ in basketball!
    So, those sports analysts and broadcasters should stop calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’ once and for all.
    They do not know what they are talking about!
    They simply do not know about the sport of basketball in general.
    Again, it is simply an ‘American ego’ in calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’.

  • http://bangoy29@aol.com Bangoy

    NBA Champions are not world champions!
    World Champions in basketball only come from the Olympics!
    NBA means National – National Basketball Association.
    It is simply an ‘American ego’ in calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’!
    It is a good thing that the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is not suing the NBA in letting its NBA team members in calling themselves as NBA ‘world champions’!
    Sports analysts and broadcasters in America should stop calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’ because they do not know anything about what basketball is all about. They do not know what they are talking about!
    To all those who keep on saying or calling the NBA Champions as ‘world champions’ – IT’S JUST SIMPLY AN ‘AMERICAN EGO’!

  • http://jsregala@aol.com Piri

    If the NBA Champions are the world champions, why do we still send a team to the Olympics and/or the FIBA to compete for the world championships in basketball?
    Maybe, they keep on calling the NBA Champions as world champions because it is simply pleasing to our ears to hear.
    Anyway, there’s no law against dreaming!

  • davie

    World Champions in basketball only come from the Olympics!

    No that would be the Olimplic champions, the world champs are the ones who win the FIBA world cup.

  • trolololo

    Yea, its not like he won four times or anything.