Stan Van Gundy is not here for Donald Trump The NBA took another step toward progressivism via the Pistons coach
A little over a year ago, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made his debut on Black Twitter with a photo from a bike ride that looked like it should have been a mixtape cover. Now he’s making waves by criticizing the president-elect. Welcome to the new NBA.
In a time in which players are speaking up about police brutality and violence and the league itself is taking a stand against gender discrimination, it’s still relatively surprising to hear a head coach completely blow off all discussion of the sport he’s employed to instruct to discuss what he thinks about the man just elected to the Oval Office. SVG held nothing back, either.
“I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic,” Van Gundy said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking this is where we are as a country.”
Alrighty, then. The full extent of his remarks was even more explicit as Van Gundy touched on George W. Bush, the feelings of his team, his concern for his family, Martin Luther King Jr., Hillary Clinton’s viability as a candidate, evangelical Christians, voting precincts in Michigan and Latinos in the United States. He clearly has had a lot on his mind.
It should be noted that Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees with Van Gundy.
Here are Steve Kerr’s complete comments on Donald Trump and the election. Do read: pic.twitter.com/SxOTduQL4z
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) November 10, 2016
There’s a larger question here, though, about how the league chooses to handle this. It’s one thing for players to wear T-shirts and voice their opinions about politics, it’s quite another for the so-called leaders of men to follow suit, not only in solidarity, but often of their own free will to do the same. BTW, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has had lots to say, too, about how we treat each other in this country.
It’s almost a completely opposite turn from what happened in Philadelphia when a black woman singing the national anthem wanted to wear a shirt reading “We Matter.” The 76ers were largely criticized for pulling her from the stage, and ended up apologizing, backtracking and completely reversing course publicly about that decision.
When it became clear that the NBA, with its blackness, with its youth and with its guaranteed contracts, would be the sports league most likely to represent the face of “the movement,” it germinated from a place in which the president was black and most reasonable people could recognize that police brutality was a problem. That entire equation has now changed. If more coaches follow Van Gundy’s lead, what mainstream America thought was going to be a potential distraction during national anthems is now an every-night discussion in the NBA.
“While personal politics in general can be a divisive topic. And for Donald Trump, during his candidacy, he became a polarizing candidate, which included along the way, insulting a lot of people,” Jalen Rose said on NBA Countdown. “So those same people today as American citizens have to digest that he’s going to be the next president of the United States. How it’s going to affect sports? Unlike Tom Brady, when his team won the championship, and he chose not to go to the White House, saying it was a scheduling conflict when Barack Obama was in office. What we’re going to see in professional sports — NBA and NFL — mark my words, there will be players that decline the opportunity to visit the White House under his presidency.”
Let’s not forget that various players have found reasons not to visit the White House for championship celebrations during Obama’s presidency. But if Trump’s presence means that sports teams no longer want to show their faces at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., you’ll likely be able to credit the NBA for that.