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Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t been shy about wading into political discourse. In latest months, he is been fiercely outspoken about his opposition to President Donald Trump and to the Trump administration’s journey ban, whereas additionally shining a lightweight on the tacit racism that always pervades on a regular basis dialogue.

Now, because the presidentand others take goal at skilled athletes who’ve been protesting racial inequality in America by kneeling in the course of the singing of the nationwide anthem earlier than video games, Van Gundy is making it clear that he stands behind the athletes.

“In a time the place bigotry appears on the rise and dedication to racial equality on the decline, I’ve an obligation as a citizen to talk out and to assist, in any method potential, these courageous and patriotic athletes who’re working to carry change to our nation,” Van Gundy wrote in a Time op-ed printed Tuesday. “I imagine all of us do.”

Van Gundy additionally revealed he invited Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – an writer, professor, lecturer, and radio host who makes a speciality of race relations – to come back speak to the Pistons. He defined the teachings he realized from Dyson’s deal with to the crew.

“Nationalism, he stated, is supporting your nation it doesn’t matter what, proper or mistaken,” Van Gundy writes. “Patriotism, however, is caring so deeply about your nation that you simply take it as your obligation to carry it accountable to its highest values and to struggle to make it the easiest it may be. Underneath this definition, these athletes and coaches are position fashions of American patriotism.”

Van Gundy bristles on the notion that protests dishonor the American flag and army – “One of the necessary freedoms that our army has fought for over two-plus centuries is the liberty of speech” – arguing that it misses the purpose of what these athletes are protesting, which embrace points equivalent to police brutality and racial profiling, and the mass incarceration of individuals of shade.

“Within the nice custom of the civil rights motion, these athletes are utilizing non-violent, peaceable protest to work towards particular modifications they need to see of their communities and their nation,” Van Gundy writes. “Due to this ‘controversy,’ persons are forgetting what these protestors are attempting to vary. It’s necessary for us to speak about it day-after-day till it resonates, till change occurs. Their calls for are necessary, and immediately, I’m including my voice in assist.”