Detroit Pistons Coach Stan Van Gundy Pens Powerful Essay in Support of Athletes Who Kneel

While scores of players have registered their disgust with Donald Trump, professional coaches across three of the four major sports leagues have remained largely silent. The NBA has proven a welcome exception. Both the Golden State Warriors' Steve Kerr and the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich have made headlines for their righteous screeds, the latter calling the president a "soulless coward."


Stan Van Gundy has previously called Trump "brazenly racist," but this week he did himself and his fellow coaches one better by coming to the defense of one of the commander-in-chief's favorite targets: athletes who protest the National Anthem. In a stirring essay for Time that deserves to be read in its entirety, the Detroit Pistons head coach argues that Colin Kaepernick, Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos are some of our country's greatest patriots. 

"Honoring America has to mean much, much more than standing at attention for a song (one which, by the way, contains racist language in later verses)," he writes. "One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech. When these professional athletes protest during the anthem, they are exercising one of the very freedoms for which our military men and women fought so valiantly, thus honoring our highest values and, in turn, those who have fought for them."

Van Gundy reveals that reading Tears We Cannot Stop; A Sermon to White America inspired him to invite renowned historian and author Michael Eric Dyson to speak to his team. The talk has remained with him, particularly Dyson's message that protest has always been a catalyst for social progress.

"And it has always made people uncomfortable," he continues. "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."

Van Gundy formally lends his support to the Player Coalition, a group of approximately 40 NFL players past and present who are working to achieve meaningful criminal justice reform. Their agenda is ambitious; they hope to ameliorate harsh sentencing guidelines, enact clean-slate laws, abolish cash bail, reform the juvenile court system, and eliminate racial bias and brutality in local police departments.

"I stand with these athletes—in support of both these causes and their patriotism," he concludes. "They are working to make America live up to its stated ideals. We should all join them in ensuring their collective voice is heard."

Read Stan Van Gundy's essay at Time.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.