Outspoken Van Gundy gets respect from coaching peers
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.”
Could there be more playing time in the works for Boban Marjanovic?
It just depends on how one reads Van Gundy’s comments on Friday afternoon.
While the Pistons are in the midst of a losing streak, there’s no sense of panic, but Van Gundy said there have been opportunities to use Marjanovic that he missed out on.
Marjanovic has played in just five games this season, but played in three straight in the past 10 days. He’s averaging 5.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in six minutes per game, but he’s an effective offensive weapon when he’s able to get time on the floor.
“We talked about that after the (Milwaukee) game and I do think I’ve probably bypassed half a dozen situations over the course of the season where he could have been very helpful and useful,” Van Gundy said Friday. “We’ll try to do a better job of finding good situations for him to play in, especially when we’re having offensive struggles.
“At the very least, he gives the other team a different look in how you have to play things.”
It’s not likely against the Warriors, but there are some games where Boban could see more action, depending on matchups. But any concerns about his lack of mobility on defense are offset by the offense he provides when other teams have to game-plan for his size, at 7-foot-4.
Reserve Eric Moreland has gotten most of the time behind Andre Drummond, but with mixed results. If Van Gundy wants to give a different looks, Marjanovic could be the next option.
“It’s not that I have that concern (about defense),” Van Gundy said. “We had been playing really well with Eric in there so there wasn’t a lot of reason to change it.”