Stan Van Gundy isn’t afraid to say what he’s thinking.
In an era when the Stephen Curry is soft-pedaling his response to the controversial new “bathroom law” in his native North Carolina, Detroit Pistons head coach Van Gundy will step right into the fray and tell you he thinks it’s crap. He’ll say what the NBA itself vaguely threatened to do, which is it should move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.
“We went through this. People had their rationale for discriminating against blacks back in segregation,” Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach, said Monday. “I don’t care, religious liberty and all of that — look, that’s the same stuff that people brought up during the civil-rights movement. They’ll try to justify it with anything they have.
“We shouldn’t have the right in our country to discriminate against anybody and especially in this situation. And I think the league should take a stand.”
Good on Van Gundy.
North Carolina’s rushed law restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. This was passed despite zero evidence of attacks nationwide by transgendered people in bathrooms. This law in North Carolina (and other Southern States) is a pretty naked political move to motivate non-Trump parts of the conservative Republican base in an election year, particularly in North Carolina where it was feared some down ticket races could go to Democrats.
There has been a backlash against North Carolina from business interests — PayPal killed plans for a 400-person global operations center in the state, Deutsche Bank halted plans to add 250 new jobs in what is generally a banking friendly state, other businesses have pulled back, and even Bruce Springsteen canceled his concert in the state.
The NBA moving the All-Star Game would be another blow along those lines. Whether it happens remains to be seen, even if Adam Silver wants it to happen the logistics of moving the massive undertaking that is the All-Star Game — and finding a city with an unbooked arena/convention space/hotel rooms — within a year is difficult.
We’ll see if the NBA — or even other players and coaches — will take the kind of stand Van Gundy was willing to. They should be for inclusion, but maybe they are concerned and want to make sure Republicans buy Under Armour shoes too.