Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy: “We should never forget that this country was founded by protesters”


Stan Van Gundy

Photo: YouTube

Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy has a reputation around the NBA as a no-nonsense head coach who isn’t afraid to speak his mind on basketball matters. This includes calling out his own players in his post game pressers or simply not putting up with their bullshit during games or in practice.

However as much as Van Gundy isn’t willing to put up with said player BS, the Hedgehog is also firmly in their corner. Especially when it comes to the recent Anthem player protests which has caught the spotlight of the sports world over the past year and a half.

Van Gundy further illustrated this unyielding support for the players in a op-ed for TIME magazine where he refers to the protestors as “patriots” by which he has an “obligation” as a citizen to “speak out and support”.

Via theScore:

“In a time where bigotry seems on the rise and commitment to racial equality on the decline, I have an obligation as a citizen to speak out and to support, in any way possible, those brave and patriotic athletes who are working to bring change to our country,” Van Gundy wrote in a Time op-ed published Tuesday. “I believe all of us do.”

Van Gundy also discussed in the op-ed how he invited Dr. Michael Eric Dyson a professor who specializes in race relations to speak with the Pistons in an effort to deliver lesson on what is currently going on in the country today.

“Nationalism, he said, is supporting your country no matter what, right or wrong,” Van Gundy writes. “Patriotism, on the other hand, is caring so deeply about your country that you take it as your duty to hold it accountable to its highest values and to fight to make it the very best it can be. Under this definition, these athletes and coaches are role models of American patriotism.”

Van Gundy bristles at the notion that protests dishonor the American flag and military – “One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech” – arguing that it misses the point of what these athletes are protesting, which include issues such as police brutality and racial profiling, and the mass incarceration of people of color.

“In the great tradition of the civil rights movement, these athletes are using non-violent, peaceful protest to work toward specific changes they want to see in their communities and their country,” Van Gundy writes. “Because of this ‘controversy,’ people are forgetting what these protestors are trying to change. It’s important for us to talk about it every day until it resonates, until change happens. Their demands are important, and today, I am adding my voice in support.”

And finally perhaps the most important point made during Van Gundy’s op-ed was highlighting the notion that the United State’s was founded by protestors, something that is seemingly lost on those who don’t want to divulge themselves into the root concerns of those speaking out.

We should never forget that this country was founded by protesters. Our founding fathers declared independence from Great Britain because they were dissatisfied with the laws and policies that they believed abridged their freedoms. Had they taken the stance that many want our professional athletes to take — to just shut up and honor your country no matter what — we would be living in British colonies. Furthermore, as Dr. Dyson reminded our team, protest has nearly always been the catalyst for meaningful change. And it has always made people uncomfortable. This was true of the abolitionists, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, all of which shined a bright and needed light on injustice, demanded that our country live up to its stated ideals and produced our most meaningful change. To be sure, they made people feel uncomfortable along the way, but those were the people who needed to feel uncomfortable. People should never be permitted to feel comfortable while trampling the rights of others.

Van Gundy’s comments are probably going to met with plenty of pushback by those who fail to understand or simply don’t want to understand. However as the detractors fall in line with the shallow narrative of the protestors being nothing more than “entitled millionaires looking for the spotlight” Van Gundy once again points to the all important notion that the true greatness of the United State’s goes well beyond a song or flag.

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