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Stan Van Gundy talks about the Pistons' losing streak before Friday's game against the Warriors. Rod Beard, The Detroit News

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Detroit — In the past week, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has faced two of his peers in terms of speaking out on social issues: San Antonio’s Greg Popovich and Golden State’s Steve Kerr. Van Gundy lauded Popovich, calling his background “unassailable” in addressing issues, including criticizing President Donald Trump.

He has a similar admiration for Kerr and the two have had conversations and exchanged messages about their opinions and to laud Popovich.

“Steve and I have texted back and forth on several occasions when things come up — a lot of times, to say, ‘Wasn’t it great what Pop said?’ ”

Van Gundy said he and Kerr tend to have similar opinions on many issues, but Kerr went a step further, with some gracious words on Van Gundy’s recent piece in Time Magazine, which addressed the issue of athletes speaking out on social issues in sports, calling them true patriots.

“Stan is awesome. That op-ed was so brilliant. I love his take on the difference between nationalism and patriotism — those lines get blurred all the time and people confuse the two,” Kerr said before Friday’s game. “There’s a huge difference: nationalism is a blind trust in anything we do; patriotism is keeping an eye for the BS — we have to keep an eye out because there’s a lot of BS out there.

“Stan’s got his eye out and I respect him a lot.”

In a time of varied opinions about how to adequately express feelings about politics and social issues, Kerr sees Van Gundy as a model in doing it professionally and still respecting others’ opinions.

“He’s a friend and he’s somebody I respect because of his willingness to speak out and call people out and say what he thinks without fear of repercussion,” Kerr said. “He doesn’t care what anybody says or thinks about him. He knows what’s right and what’s wrong and he professes that — and that’s an important quality these days.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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