Stan Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons play the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night. Arizona voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump won Maricopa County, where the city of Phoenix is located, by 40,000 votes.
That prompted Van Gundy to speak out against Trump in a pregame address before Wednesday’s game.
“I don’t know how you go about it, if you’re a person of color today or a Latino. Because white society just said to you, again -- not like we haven’t forever -- but again, and emphatically, that I don’t think you deserve equality,” Van Gundy said. “We don’t think you deserve respect. And the same with women. That’s what we say today, as a country. We should be ashamed for what we stand for as the United States today.”
That statement was at the end of a much longer address in which Van Gundy wondered how the country could elect someone that’s “openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric.” Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press has a full transcript.
The backdrop of a game in Phoenix motivated Van Gundy to discuss the election instead of anything related to the game itself. He admitted that he and his players will have trouble facing fans from a city whose voters largely supported Trump.
“I’m having a hard time being with people. I’m going to walk into this arena tonight and realize that -- especially in this state -- most of these people voted for the guy,” Van Gundy said. “Like, (expletive), I don’t have any respect for that. I don’t.”
Van Gundy said that his team was “a little quiet” entering the arena. He initially thought the silence might’ve been caused by Monday’s blowout loss to the Clippers, but backup center Aron Baynes said team’s mood was about “last night.”
This isn’t the first time Van Gundy has spoken out about the U.S. political climate. In a 2011 interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Van Gundy even admitted he’s contemplated running for office once his coaching career is done. (That enthusiasm dampened after a bad experience campaigning to improve the public school system in a county just north of Orlando). He also was one of the loudest supporters of the NBA’s decision to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte due to the HB2 legislation.
Still, Van Gundy’s dismay was palpable even for him.
“It’s just, we have said -- and my daughters, the three of them -- our society has said, ‘No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.' I don’t know how we get past that,” Van Gundy said.
“Martin Luther King said, 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.' I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today. ... What we have done to minorities ... in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it.”