Pistons' Van Gundy unleashes tirade on President-elect Trump

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Stan Van Gundy

Phoenix — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t shy about his political views.

He supported Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s election, but after Republican Donald Trump emerged with a surprising victory, Van Gundy unleashed an emotion-filled tirade on Wednesday.

“Incredible,” he said following Wednesday morning’s shoot-around at Talking Stick Resort Arena. “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. 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.

“You don’t get to come out and talk about people like that, and then lead our country and have millions of Americans embrace you.”

For Van Gundy, the connection was difficult to make a connection between the things Trump said during his candidacy — and in the years before — and what the office of the President should be.

“For our country to be where we are now, that we took a guy who — I don’t care what anyone says, I’m sure they have other reasons and maybe good reasons for voting for Donald Trump — but I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynist and ethnocentric, and say, ‘That’s OK with us; we’re going to vote for him anyway,’” Van Gundy said.

“We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country.”

Van Gundy, who has three daughters, is worried about what the results of the election say — not so much against Clinton, but women in general.

“Our society has said, ‘No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens,’” Van Gundy said. “And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynist as our leader. I don’t know how we get past that.”

Van Gundy voiced the frustration of his perception of Trump’s opinions of minorities and the issue with the audio recording with Billy Bush from years ago that looked to be a hurdle that Trump couldn’t overcome.

But after Trump’s election, Van Gundy said the message is clear.

“Martin Luther King said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long but bends toward justice,’” he said.

“I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today. It’s bending a long way away from justice right now.

“What we have done to minorities and women in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. ... I don’t, know, other than ‘build a wall’ and ‘I hate people of color,’ and ‘women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.’ I don’t know how you get past that.”

Pistons forward Tobias Harris shared the frustration, but tried to focus on solutions.

He said the team didn’t have a group discussion about the election, but smaller groups of players had discussions to express their thoughts.

“The tough thing about it is that’s the direction people want to go,” Harris said. “Do I agree with it? No, but that’s the world we live in right now. There’s not much you can do to change him being President.

“I look at it like I have to continue to help the youth and help other people and do the best I can do to make a change and help.”

After Van Gundy’s comments started to spread, Harris was supportive of his coach’s right to express himself in a public forum.

“Coach said what he felt and you can never take somebody’s opinion away,” Harris said. “Coach was passionate about how he feels and what he said.

“It’s good to know that somebody that we have coaching us cares that much for America and for us as players, the children in his family and generations going forward.”

Van Gundy said the players and staff were somber Wednesday morning. At first, he thought it might have had something to do with the 32-point loss to the Clippers on Monday night, but concluded it was more the election result.

After talking with a player or two, he knew it was something bigger.

“We presume to tell other countries about human rights abuses and everything else,” Van Gundy said. “We’d better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human rights abuses.

“We just elected an openly brazen, racist, 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 ain’t got anything to teach anybody.”