NBA

Stan Van Gundy is Trying to Coach the United States Through Its Issues With Racial Injustice

It’s been more than two years since we last saw Stan Van Gundy on the NBA sidelines. The coach lost his job with the Detroit Pistons in May 2018. Since then, he’s found a home in the media; Van Gundy has been linked to the New York Knicks job but apparently has no desire to join the “dysfunctional” organization. That reality, however, hasn’t stopped the NBA veteran from coaching.

Without a team to lead on the hardwood, Van Gundy has taken to social media to offer his advice. In recent days, he’s been trying to coach the United States of America through its collective issues with racial injustice.

Stan Van Gundy’s coaching career

From a purely visual perspective, Stan Van Gundy doesn’t look like a professional athlete. While that may be true, he’s still shown quite the basketball mind over the years.

Van Gundy got his start in the lower tiers of college basketball, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Vermont before taking charge of the tiny Castleton University. He then took assistant gigs at Fordham and Canisius, continuing to cut his teeth.

After working at UMASS Lowell and Wisconsin, Van Gundy got his first taste of professional action in 1995, joining the Miami Heat coaching staff. He spent eight seasons as an assistant before taking over the head coaching role in 2003; he then moved north, taking a job with the Orlando Magic.

Van Gundy eventually fell out with Dwight Howard, however, and was relieved of his duties. He then spent four seasons with the Detroit Pistons, serving as both head coach and president of basketball operations. While the pros and cons of his tenure can be debated—the Pistons didn’t win enough games, but Van Gundy was tasked with stabilizing the franchise and getting things moving in the right direction—he got the ax after four seasons in Michigan.

Coaching America on racial injustice

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Ever since the tragic death of George Floyd, countless professional athletes have used their star status to speak out about racial injustice in the United States. Stan Van Gundy, however, wasn’t going to let the players do all the work.

On his Twitter account—he may not be verified, but he provided an image to prove his identity—Van Gundy has been sharing his opinions on current American events. As a coach, though, he’s not content to simply think out loud; he’s providing a game plan to fight racial injustice.

“Two steps we must take before we can solve racial injustice in our country,” Van Gundy wrote in a tweet. “First we must educate ourselves as to the truth about our racial history (not the version we learned in school). Then we must own up to our problems. We can’t solve the problem until we face it honestly.”

Stan Van Gundy isn’t the only NBA coach getting political

In theory, Stan Van Gundy has a bit more latitude to share his opinions since he isn’t employed by an NBA team. Several active coaches, however, have also joined him in speaking out.

During his time in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich hasn’t been afraid to wade into politics. The Spurs coach has gone on the record blasting Donald Trump’s lack of leadership; Pop has also been speaking about racism and racial inequality for the past several years.

Steve Kerr, who played under Popovich in San Antonio, has also made use of his privilege. “There is no question the reaction to me saying exactly the same thing as a black athlete is taken a different way even if the words were exact,” Kerr told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “It is looked at differently. I think it is important for everybody to speak out if they feel comfortable doing so.”

Based on his Twitter account, Stan Van Gundy certainly feels comfortable speaking up. If nothing else, he’s well versed in creating a game plan and sharing it with a group.