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 The president rescinded the invite on Saturday morning via twitter.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.”

 

Detroit Catholic Central Defeats Brother Rice in 73rd Boys Bowl Game

Even though the annual Boys Bowl game has been around for 73 years, it was the first time both Dan Anderson and his junior quarterback Marco Genrich got to experience it in new ways.

Anderson has been around the Detroit Catholic Central program for 18 years, and has gotten to experience the game as a coordinator. But on Sunday, he was the head coach in this game for the first time.

For him it was both humbling, and exciting as the Shamrocks came from behind to beat Birmingham Brother Rice 27-23 giving Catholic Central its third straight Boys Bowl win.

“It was very exciting. I don’t know if anything is going on right now, but it means the world to me. It really does. Boys Bowl from and outsider’s perspective, and learning what it’s all about for 18 years, you have an appreciation for this game and what it means,” he said as he jokingly checked for a pulse.

“The games are always a great battle. I’m just so proud of these boys with how they kept fighting through out the whole game.”

In typical CC vs Rice fashion, the game went down to the wire late in the fourth quarter. Rice junior quarterback Mariano Valenti hit Colin Gardner for a 90-yard pass before getting injured and leaving the game with six minutes to play.

The Rice drive stalled, and senior Christian Hajjar hit a 24-yard field goal for Rice’s first lead of the day, 23-21.

Even though Genrich is a first year starter, he was put in this situation earlier this year, but came up short throwing an interception against Toledo Whitmer late in the game.

“I didn’t want to experience that feeling again. I was ready to make plays and make sure I could get a game winning drive instead of it ending with the ball in their hands,” he said.

The 5-foot-11 signal caller stood tall with his back to the CC end zone after Brother Rice failed to move the ball from the 50 yard line. One the first play of the drive, Genrich rolled out to his right and found junior Parker Bohland down the sideline for a 53-yard gain.

Then after a few carries by Genrich moving the ball to the 12 yard line, he struck for his second touchdown pass of the day.

“We wanted to fake a run, so we did a wham pass,” he said. “Every probably thought we were going to run it. The linebackers and safeties bit on it, and I found Mike (Harding) in the back of the end zone.”

That play-action pass gave the Shamrocks (3-2) a 27-23 lead with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter. An interception on the ensuing drive Ryan Birney sealed the win.

“Marco is a young guy who barely had a chance to play last year. He’s still getting his feet wet. With the schedule we have, and that we play, you have to grow up fast. Marco has the right demeanor, he doesn’t let things bother him too much, and he just keeps going,” Anderson said of his signal caller.

“He’s been working so hard to get better, and it showed today.”

Also leading the Shamrock offense was senior running back Cam Ryan who opened the game up with a 36-yard touchdown run, and a 3-yard touchdown on his way to 115 yards on 19 carries.

Brother rice (2-3) was led by Valenti who used his feet and his arm to move the Warrior offense all day. He threw two touchdown passes before getting injured, and even ran one in for a 17-yard score that cut into CC’s lead 21-20 with 9:18 left in the third quarter.

“I really like what I’ve seen from him. He moves the offense well, and is getting a better feel for the game in his second year,” Michigan quarterback and former Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone said.

“As an Alumn, I know our offense is in good hands with him under center.”

Could Chris Bosh Be LeBron’s Playmaker In Waiting?

Believeland is quickly falling into disarray. It’s hard to believe, but it’s easy to understand.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost four of their last five games, including a blowout loss on the road to the Golden State Warriors, 126-91. They also still lead the Eastern Conference with a 30-14 record and three game lead of the second place Raptors.

download (1)In that time, LeBron James has been shouldering the load, a load that he’s shouldered since he was playing as a high school senior St Vincent-St Mary’s. James leads the Cavs in every category except blocks (Tristan Thompson 1.2) and rebounds (Kevin Love 11). And that is expected. He’s a playmaker.

So is Kyrie Irving. So is Kevin Love.

When James left Cleveland, he was searching for answers. At 26-years-old, it’s hard to know how to get things done. James knows that his talent could carry a team to the promise land where James and Cleveland lost to the Spurs in 2007. But how do you win a championship?

It’s with a group of guys.

Boston showed that’s possible to win with three men (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen). The Boston 3-party paved the way, and provided teams with a blue print for success. Three guys, a couple of role players and as Kevin Garnett screamed, “anything is possible.”

The Heat followed the same path. They had the all-star point guard, but they needed playmakers to complete the job. James flew in from Cleveland, and Chris Bosh flew in from Toronto. The rest is history.

James, rings wrapped around his fingers, packed his backs and flew home with the game plan, and a way for Cleveland to end its title drought. Legacy as we know gets cemented in historic fashion.

On the way to winning Cavs first NBA Title, Golden State learned something too. James can be stopped if you fire enough shots. Even though the Warriors have an NBA Title, they also infamously blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to James and his cavalry of Irving and Love.

The arms race, and rivalry grew. Kevin Durant, the only player not named James or Stephen Curry to win an MVP award in the last five years, became a Warrior. The Warriors have four playmakers to the Cavs’ three.

On Tuesday, the frustration of defending a title and experiencing the second-worst regular season stretch since James returned to Cleveland mounted into an outburst when James told the media “We need a f—king playmaker.”

You can argue that James, Irving, and Love don’t need anyone else, but you can also see their point with Golden State’s weapons cache of Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Green.

Cleveland can’t sign a player. They’re too strapped for cash, which James is also partly to blame for as he makes $30.9M. The highest in the league by about four-million dollars. But the Cavs can get creative.

The answer could lie in Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh.

Bosh has been out of action with reoccurring blood clots since Feb. 9 2016. The first time Bosh was stricken with this issue, was the year prior when it was revealed after the All-Star Game, when Bosh found himself feeling ill on vacation. The situation was immediately serious when Bosh’s blood clot had traveled from his calf to his lung, leading to his hospitalization. The day after last February’s trade deadline, Bosh was ruled out for the rest of the 2014–15 season.

Bosh, though, believed then he could come back.miami-heat-forward-chris-bosh-at-the-sidelines-during-a-game-last-season

“I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again,” Bosh’s Mar. 10 2016 statement read. “My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis. Together with the Miami Heat, I am working with doctors, exploring the best precautionary treatment options and taking every necessary step to make sure I’m healthy for myself, my family, and my team.

“I’ve been working out, training with the team, watching film of the games, walking through plays and have attended home games despite not being visible to the public. I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible. I remain positive that I will be able to return this season.

“I truly appreciate everyone’s concern and support.”

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald said that From what he’s been told, “Bosh has not definitively decided whether to resume his career. He certainly has not ruled it out. And the idea of playing again with Dwyane Wade or LeBron James appeals to him.”

Bosh has been working, like his statement said, towards a comeback this season.

In a perfect world, Bosh could be eased into a line-up, if a move were to happen, and provide a short spark off the bench. He could fill the role that Robert Horry provided to the Spurs late his career; a camping 3-point specialists. The idea would be very appealing to a cap stricken team in what it appears to be in desperate (and I use that term very loosely) situation.

But the risk is very, very high despite the fact that Bosh hasn’t played a full season in two years.

Most NBA teams would probably never clear a player with the risky health issues that Bosh has. Blood clots aren’t a one-time thing with the star forward.

The case for Bosh to play it safe and end his career is the best move for Bosh and his family. There is no reason to risk experiencing a pulmonary embolism at any point in the season. But, the Cavs should honestly explore that avenue with Bosh in hopes of adding a playmaker that their star player so desperately wants.

All you have to do is believe.

Pistons Should Let Cooler Heads Prevail

According to reports from ESPN’s Marc Stein Chris Haynes on Friday, the Detroit Pistons and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the early stages of trading point guards Marco Rubio and Reggie Jackson.

This has been brewing for about a month that Reggie Jackson and Stan Van Gundy aren’t on the same page, and their frustrations are boiling over.

Detroit entered Dec. 19 on a skid, losing three of four games including a bad win to the Philadelphia 76-ers and held a team meeting. Jackson was still getting used to being back in the line-up after recovering from a knee injury.

The players were sick of losing, and held a team meeting initiated by Marcus Morris and Aaron Baynes. Jackson said the meeting discussed ways to get better by creating ball movement to help promote defense.

Stan Van Gundy wasn’t buying what the Jackson was selling.

That night Jackson repeatedly swung the ball around the perimeter in the shot clock to initiate a different point of attack other than the Pistons pick-and-roll predicated offense.

After Van Gundy scoffed at the notion of a team meeting, he said, “That wasn’t us. That was him. That wasn’t us. That was him” when referring to why Jackson failed to shoot the ball in the first quarter against the Bulls in a 31-point loss.

Going back to Jackson’s return on Dec. 4 is what’s most telling about the two’s relationship. In typical Van Gundy fashion he was blunt about the Pistons’ play since Jackson’s return.

“There’s no question we haven’t been as good,” Van Gundy said of a stretch that started with Jackson’s season debut in a loss to the Orlando Magic on Dec. 4. “We’ve played eight games, seven of them against teams below .500, and we’re 3-5, so there’s no question we’re not as good as we were. That’s just a fact. … If you’re asking in the eight games, ‘Have we gotten better?’ Hell no, we’ve gotten worse.”

Jackson’s answer to all of this was to point fingers and say, “I don’t call the plays.”

Enter Stein and Haynes’ report on Friday, which makes sense on the surface: Get rid of a problem player for a player who can pass the ball, play good defense and only shoot on occasion. It’s a lot easier to get rid of a player than a coach who is also the team president.

As you dive deeper, though, trading Jackson doesn’t make much since at all considering the Pistons were a playoff team last year with the same unit, and played the Cleveland Cavaliers as tough as you could in a four game sweep.

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 24: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons talks to the team before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers the game on February 24, 2015 at The Palace of Auburn in Hills in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

“You can’t be charting your organization’s course based on 10 games when you went through 82 games and a playoff series the year before. You’re going to not make very good decisions if that’s what you’re charting your course on, “Van Gundy said on Friday.

“I don’t feel at this point that, ‘Oh (expletive),’ we’ve gotta go move two or three guys. I think it’s the opposite,” Van Gundy said. “It’s the same the other way. If we’d played 10 really (great) games and you think, ‘Oh, my God,’ we’re great and you hadn’t shown that before. You want to judge on as large a sample size as you possibly can.”

And that is essentially the problem is the sample size. Granted nobody expected it’d take the Pistons this long to get back into their groove with Jackson firmly in the line-up for a month and a half, but it has.

In January, the Pistons are 3-3 and sit a game out of the eighth seed in the eastern conference and still have a month to hear other offers before the trade deadline.

If Detroit wants to go a different direction from Jackson, who is in the second year of a five-year, $80 million contract, they will, and the price may get better than Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad.

However, Van Gundy is willing to let cooler heads prevail until their hand is forced and Jackson is moved out of town.

“Jeff’s (Bower) talking to everybody, listening to everybody. You’re always seeing what’s out there,” Van Gundy said. “I really don’t think that’s our issue right now. I think we’ve got a body of work that – both last year and the earlier part of this year – that leaves us with a confidence level that this group can win.”

And for now, that’s the right move.

In The Driver Seat, Lions Crashed and Burned

635823248177782905-dfp-1116-lions-break-1-1-hd94sveu-l518258709You’d think being told you’re making the playoffs win, lose or draw would be a good thing, an inspirational thing. You don’t expect it to feel like you’re getting your face punched in.

Here we are a day removed from the Packers’ ninth division title, and Detroit still isn’t close to answering a standing-10 count anytime soon.

If making the playoffs should a time of celebration, and excitement. Why does it feel the exact opposite?

It could be how the Lions got there.

This team overachieved using eight come from behind wins to amass its nine-win total. Many even thought this team wasn’t close to making the playoffs in the first place, but the Lions had a favorable schedule to work with. Entering the season the Lions’ opponent win percentage was tied for 27th in the league at 46.5-percent.

Maybe it’s how the Lions ended the season. On Dec 11, 2016 the Lions controlled it’s own destiny, not only to the playoffs, but also to a division title. The unlikely Lions were the No. 2 seed in the NFC Playoffs and faced two divisional opponents in its last four games.

When the Lions were in the driver seat, they crashed and burned.

Down the stretch, the Lions season went off road quickly losing its last three games to playoff teams while being outscored 49-13 in the second half while losing starters Travis Swanson, Riley Reiff and Theo Riddick in the process. Darius Slay was also out during the Cowboys game, and Matthew Stafford is playing with a bum digit on his throwing hand.

That alone would spell disaster, and I won’t argue that it doesn’t.

However when you’re playing a team with nothing to play for in the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys, and when you’re facing a team for your division who is down to its last reserve cornerback in the Green Bay Packers and can’t come out with a win after playing well for a half each time; you have problems.

All of this culminated into a three week slide that found the Lions holding onto the last NFC Wildcard spot by its fingertips (Thanks Washington), and losing the division at home.

The lack of adjustments made by the coaching staff in the second half is mind boggling, and it may have been enough for a vote of no confidence in Jim Caldwell. A team that lacked a running game until the resurgence of running back Zach Zenner (69 yards on 20 carries on Sunday), could only get two touchdowns against the league’s second to worst pass defense.

How is that possible? How is that ok? More importantly, how is that acceptable?

The answer is that it shouldn’t be. It can’t be. You can’t just be happy to be there and be a part of the twelve teams playing football this week.

“I don’t know what (backing in) means,” Caldwell said after Sunday’s loss. “That’s sort of a media-driven phrase. A coach won’t tell you that because they know how hard it is to get in, no matter how it happens. If you’re one of those 12, it’s a difficult task.”

It shouldn’t be that hard, which is part of the problem. The Lions hand the brass ring, and skipped it across the Great Lakes to Green Bay.

Since Martha Ford took over this team after her husband died, she’s demanded more. She went out and hired the first general manager outside the organization in over two decades in Bob Quinn. The impressive part is that Quinn was her back-up plan.AR-160119964

According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Green Bay Packers’ three highest-ranking executives in personnel under general manager Ted Thompson were denied opportunities to interview with other NFL teams in 2015.

McGinn’s sources confirmed that Eliot Wolf wasn’t allowed to speak with the Detroit Lions in November 2015 for their GM job.

For the organization to make a full flush of its identity the fans need to ask more just like Martha Ford did in 2015. They deserve it.

They deserve better on field competition, which Quinn is working on and better on field leadership. When you have a chance to play for a banner at home, you need a better showing. The fans deserve better because after a while, you can’t just happy to be there. You need to win.

23-plus years is of a drought is plenty. Each team in the division has won a title at least three times since 2002. The Lions need to take that next step and win one. It’s time to take the wheel, and finish the reconstruction of this organization’s identity or else the punches will keep on coming and getting up will be harder to stomach.