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Stan Van Gundy: ‘I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today’

Detroit Pistons v Brooklyn Nets

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons reacts after a foul call against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half at Barclays Center on November 2, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Many NBA players responded to Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in yesterday’s presidential election.

Perhaps, nobody in the league had a stronger reaction than Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

“I didn’t vote for (George W.) Bush, but he was a good, honorable man with whom I had political differences, so I didn’t vote for him. But for our country to be where we are now, who took a guy who -- I don’t care what anyone says, I’m sure they have other reasons and maybe good reasons for voting for Donald Trump -- but I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric, and say, ‘That’s OK with us, we’re going to vote for him anyway.’

“We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country. It’s tough on (the team), we noticed it coming in. Everybody was a little quiet, and I thought, ‘Well, maybe the game the other night.’ And so we talked about that, but then Aron Baynes said, ‘I don’t think that’s why everybody’s quiet. It’s last night.’

“It’s just, we have said -- and my daughters, the three of them -- our society has said, ‘No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens. And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynistic as our leader.’ I don’t know how we get past that.

“Martin Luther King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice.’ I would have believed in that for a long time, but not today. … What we have done to minorities … in this election is despicable. I’m having a hard time dealing with it. This isn’t your normal candidate. I don’t know even know if I have political differences with him. I don’t even know what are his politics. I don’t know, other than to build a wall and ‘I hate people of color, and women are to be treated as sex objects and as servants to men.’ I don’t know how you get past that. I don’t know how you walk into the booth and vote for that.

“I understand problems with the economy. I understand all the problems with Hillary Clinton, I do. But certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country ... . We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses.

“We just elected an openly, brazen misogynist leader and we should keep our mouths shut and realize that we need to be learning maybe from the rest of the world, because we don’t got anything to teach anybody.

“It’s embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can’t say I’ve ever been ashamed of our country until today. Until today. We all have to find our way to move forward, but that was -- and I’m not even trying to make a political statement. To me, that’s beyond politics.

“You don’t get to come out and talk about people like that, and then lead our country and have millions of Americans embrace you. I’m having a hard time being with people. I’m going to walk into this arena tonight and realize that -- especially in this state -- most of these people voted for the guy. Like, (expletive), I don’t have any respect for that. I don’t.

Unfortunately, Van Gundy is incorrect about Trump not being a normal candidate due to his racism and sexism. The United States has had numerous racist and sexist presidents. Racism and sexism are baked into the fabric of this country.

We’ve never properly confronted that. Progressed from the worst times, yes. But acknowledged just how bad it was and therefore how far we still have to go despite massive progress, no.

Van Gundy is telling the story of some Trump voters, but not all of them.

I don’t believe sexism alone explains the difference. After all, so many have pinned demographics like that one as racist, too.

There was something more here – a far-larger-than-expected wave of people who didn’t loudly proclaim their support for Trump but still voted for him, suggesting they were not enthusiastic about his stated ideologies. Is it troubling that they looked past his racism, sexism, Islamophobia and white nationalism? Of course. But if they didn’t embrace those tenets of Trumpism, they are not as disconnected from Van Gundy as he suggests.

Democrats and Republicans who dislike Trump – remember, establishment Republicans tried in vein to stop their eventual deeply flawed nominee while establishment Democrats enthusiastically welcomed theirs – should try to figure out why these hidden-in-polling voters picked Trump. Then, build a platform that appeals to their better angels.

Writing those people off as in line with Trump’s actual deplorable voters, which Van Gundy is doing, is a mistake that will even further disillusion people who are so fed up with Washington that they just voted for a heinous candidate who embodies the worst elements of Washington just because he’s an outsider.

I understand Van Gundy’s sadness, and there is a lot of it today. But there are more productive places to channel it that will lead to fewer days like this.