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Stan Van Gundy has thoughts on the ‘stick to sports’ crowd

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Pistons coach sounds off: ‘You’re either for freedom of speech or you’re not’

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Van Gundy released an official statement and read it aloud during Pistons media day when the subject of athlete protests came up. The statement was clear, unequivocal and tough about his thoughts on the president and his support of players taking part in non-violent protests.

But he followed it up with an unscripted rant on the “stick to sports” crowd that was even better. Here, off the cuff, he stood up for his players, himself, and anyone else that uses whatever forum is afforded them to speak their minds on the issues that matter to them.

Stan Van Gundy on “Stick to Sports”

The stick to sports crowd. Like, couldn’t we say that to virtually anybody about anything? So when you say that what are you saying? You, as an athlete, you’re too stupid to speak out but it’s OK for business people to speak out? Or, you don’t want anybody to speak out? Generally, what people mean is that they don’t want anybody who disagrees with them to speak out.

But athletes have the same rights that everybody else does. And if there is a strength in our democracy it is that we are encouraged to exercise our rights to speak out and to hold people in power in check. So the stick to sports stuff, I don’t get it. So only politicians are allowed to speak out? Because everyone else has some sort of job. Stick to sports writing, stick to running the camera. Stick to getting a new arena on. Tim, stick to working for the players association.

So who is allowed to speak? And, if you’re a person in power and want to be tyrannical, that’s great. Just get everybody to shut everybody down who wants to talk and then you’re the only ones left standing.

No, no. We are all compelled to talk as people of conscience. And again, when you have something that is important to you, I don’t care who you are and I honestly don’t care if you agree with me.

I ran up against that this summer. When the Charlottesville thing happened. I am a big supporter financially and otherwise of the ACLU. And if you remember, the ACLU, they got criticized. They went to court to get those people to have the right to march in that park. [wanted to move them. The ACLU was getting killed. And I sent a letter to the executive director of the ACLU here applauding the ACLU for what you do.

You’re either for freedom of speech or you’re not. We’re all for, every person, every person is for anyone speaking out to voice the opinions they agree with. That is pretty easy. That’s not hard. Democracy is hard.

So I certainly don’t advocate violence or any of that. Nobody has the right to that, but everyone has a right to their opinion whether I like it or not. So, yo0u know, this stick to sports stuff, it irritates me. Because I don’t anyone say stick to business or stick to philanthropy if Bill Gates wants to speak out. I think it’s really condescending on athletes. It’s almost like, ‘You’re not smart enough to speak up. You’re not entitled to an opinion.’ And I don’t agree with that obviously at all. This is some smart, involved guys who have every right to make their opinions known.