Stan Van Gundy Doesn’t Stick To Sports

The shockwave of reactions from President Donald Trump’s attack on NFL players on Friday night has moved beyond the NFL, and now has the NBA’s attention.

First it was calling former NFL QB Colin Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” for kneeling during the national anthem to a crowd of supporters in Alabama. Then it was turned to NBA star Steph Curry who said he wouldn’t visit the White House in February when the Warriors are planning on making the trip to celebrate their NBA championship. The president rescinded the invite on Saturday morning via twitter.

On Monday during the Pistons’ media day coach Stan Van Gundy offered his words of support for the NFL players that decided to exercise their right to free speech by taking a knee, or staying in the locker room, or standing with arms locked in solidarity, or those who sat on the bench during the national anthem.

“While it is unfortunate that our current president has made our national anthem a divisive issue, the positive is that people are now talking about some very important problems,” his statement read.

“There are serious issues of inequality and injustice in this country. People of conscious are compelled to oppose racism, sexism, and intolerance of people of different sexual identities and orientation wherever and whenever they see it. I stand with those opposing bigotry. I, as an individual, and the Detroit Pistons as an organization, support diversity, inclusion, and equality. I was proud of the statement that our owner Tom Gores released this morning.

“I applaud, the professional athletes using their platform to voice their opinions. I encourage our players to be engaged, involved citizens. Peaceful protest is a hallmark of our democracy, and has been an impetus for social change throughout our history. While people can differ on the issues, no one should seek to discourage freedom of speech. The athletes involved in these protests should be respected for exercising their rights of free speech in an appropriate and non-violent manner.”

On whether there would be a form of protest, similar to the locking of arms during the national anthem last season, Van Gundy said it’d be something they would discuss.

“We talked about it a little bit in there among the team,” he added. “They may do something as a group, but each individual needs to make up their own mind as well. We encourage our players to get involved wherever they can.

“I take my job really seriously, but I also take my responsibility as a citizen very seriously. And when I see things I’m opposed to, I’ll usually speak out. While we’ll support our player’s decision to speak out, we’ll also support their right not to.”

Van Gundy also said he didn’t know exactly where it’d take his team, but support from

Stand Van Gundy by Keith Allison WikiCommons

the owner on down will be shown in whatever they decide.

He also had a message to the “stick to sports” crowd.

“Couldn’t we say that to virtually anybody, and anything? When you say ‘stick to sports’ what are you saying? As an athlete you’re too stupid to speak out, but it’s ok for business people to speak out? Do you not want anyone to speak out,” he asked.

“Generally, they don’t want anyone who disagrees with them to speak out. But athletes have the

same rights anyone else does. If there is a strength in our democracy, it’s that we are encouraged to exercise those rights and speak out, and to hold people in power in check.

“The stick to sports stuff, I don’t get it. Only our politicians get to speak out? Then everyone else has some sort of job. Stick to sports writing. Stick to camera work. Stick to building a new arena. Who is allowed to speak? If you’re a person in power, and wants to be tyrannical that’s great. Get people to shut everyone down who wants to talk. Then you’re the only ones left standing.

“No. No. We all are compelled to talk. As people of conscious, and you have something that’s important to you…it happened this summer with the Charlottesville situation and them moving the rally to a park. The ACLU was getting killed for that. I’m a big supporter of the ACLU, and I sent a letter to the executive of the local chapter here applauding them.

“You’re either for freedom of speech or you’re not. Democracy is hard. I don’t advocate violence, nobody has the right to that. But everyone has the right to their opinion whether I like it or not. I don’t hear stick to business, or stick to philanthropy if Bill Gates wants to speak out. It’s condescending to athletes, and I don’t agree with it. We have smart, involved guys on this team and in our league who have the right to make their opinion’s known.”