NEW YORK — Detroit Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy had to double-check whether his team had stayed at a Donald Trump-branded hotel this season.
A Wednesday ESPN.com report revealed three NBA teams — the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies — will no longer stay at the president-elect’s hotel chain. Van Gundy, who had been outspoken on the country’s decision to elect Trump as president, was not listed in the story.
“I had people e-mailing me the article and saying, ‘Why aren’t you on that list?” he told reporters ahead of the Pistons November 16 matchup against the Knicks. “I said, ‘Cause we’ve never stayed there.’ We didn’t have to cancel anything.”
In the Madison Square Garden corridor connecting the home and visiting locker rooms, Van Gundy spoke with reporters for two minutes on Wednesday, this time lauding the league and its players for standing up on social awareness and activism.
“I think every team’s gotta take a look at that. I think teams are getting tuned in a little bit, you know, politically and everything else. And give the players a great deal of credit on that. I’ve been really proud of our own players, but the players throughout the league, that they’re attune to what’s going on and stand up for their values. I think that’s impressive. You know, I’ve said it with our team. I think it’s really impressive. Particularly the fact that we have a really young team, and we’re talking guys in their 20s. And normally that kind of, no matter where you stand on the spectrum, normally that kind of social awareness and activism is something you come to later in life.
“I said this morning, I know where I was in the 20s. I think I was fairly aware but I was just consumed with myself in the 20s and what I wanted to do and everything else. And then you grow into more of an awareness. So, to see these young guys taking an interest — young, privileged guys, you know, got a lot of money and everything else — to take an interest with what’s going on and a real concern with their communities and the people who are less fortunate than they are. I think (that) speaks very well of them. And I’ve been very proud of our league under Adam (Silver)’s leadership in terms of social issues with the teams in our league and the players.”
Van Gundy was the first NBA coach to openly criticize the country for electing Trump.
“I don't think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic,” Van Gundy said. “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.”
“We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody.
“It’s embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. Until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was -- and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics.
Since he spoke out, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich have followed suit.