Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the 3 days following the 2016 Election, 3 NBA Coaches offered heart-felt statements that I found to be timely and vividly-expressive – and that I agree with. While I can’t say that any of them are Christians, all three seem to be morally-grounded men. While one of them is known to speak from time to time on social issues (Steve Kerr), the other two (Stan Van Gundy and Gregg Popovich) aren’t – but were refreshingly frank and fervent in their Election week remarks. With the Inaugeration of the 45th President Friday, today seemed a good time to share what they said in the aftermath of the Elections.
When juxtaposed against Rev. Noah Van Niel’s Sermon five days after the Election featured in Sermon Says: Hopefulness, God’s Presence, & Racial Harmony, I think these four men offer an enlightening perspective on the last eleven weeks in this country.
Excerpts of the coaches’ statements, emphasis added, are provided below.
Stan Van Gundy, Coach, Detroit Pistons
Steve Kerr. Coach, Golden State Warriors
Gregg Popovich, Coach, San Antonio Spurs
Stan Van Gundy
- “You read how [Trump] was embraced by conservative Christians. Evangelical Christians. I’m not a religious guy, but what the hell Bible are they reading? I’m dead serious. What Bible are you reading? And you’re supposed to be — it’s different. There are a lot of different groups we can be upset at. But you’re Christians. You’re supposed to be — at least you pride yourself on being the moral compass of our society. And you said, ‘Yeah, the guy can talk about women like that. I’m fine with that.’ He can disparage every ethnic group, and I’m fine with 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”.
- “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”.
- “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”.
- “I thought it took a lot of guts for Stan [Van Gundy] to say what he did and I think a lot of us feel similarly,” Kerr said. For me, probably the biggest disappointment with this election was the level of discourse. There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election. And it was like [that] went out the window. Maybe we should have seen it coming over the last 10 years . . . And I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics, but then you’re faced with the reality that the man who’s going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words. That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. I wish him well”.
- “I don’t know what else to say. It’s just the whole process has left all of us I think feeling just kind of disgusted and disappointed. I thought we were better than this. I thought the Jerry Springer Show was the Jerry Springer Show”.
- “Right now I’m just trying to formulate thoughts. It’s still early and I’m still sick to my stomach. Not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor and tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, and I live in that country where half the country ignored all that to elect someone. That’s the scariest part of the whole thing to me”.
- “We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for. They’d be grounded for years if they acted and said the things that have been said in that campaign by Donald Trump. I look at the evangelicals and I wonder, ‘Those values don’t mean anything to them?’ All those values to me are more important than anybody’s skill in business or anything else because it tells who we are and how we want to live and what kind of people we are.
- “We didn’t make this stuff up. [Trump’s] angry at the media because they reported what he said and how he acted. It’s ironic to me. It just makes no sense. So that’s my real fear and that’s what gives me so much pause and makes me feel so badly that the country is willing to be that intolerant and not understand the empathy that’s necessary to understand other group situations. “I’m a rich white guy, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking about it. I can’t imagine being a Muslim right now, or a woman, or an African-American, a Hispanic, a handicapped person, how disenfranchised they might feel . . . The race baiting with trying to make Barack Obama, our first black president, illegitimate. It leaves me wondering where I’ve been living and with whom I’m living”.
Links to their statements:
Detroit Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy goes off on Trump: ‘Brazenly racist’ (audio and transcript)
Gregg Popovich uncensored: Full transcript of thoughts on Donald Trump (audio and transcript)
While Steve Kerr’s was the most diplomatic of the three, they all show the profound power of being unsilent – i.e. speaking up when situation warrants! While you may not be as prominent as a NBA coach, your refusal to be silent ‘about the things that matter’ is a good thing too.
As Kerr stated “There should be some level of decorum and respect and dignity that goes with the election”. When he thought the mood of his players the day after Elections was due to a game his team had just lost, Van Gundy quickly learned – from one of the basketball players- that it was about who’d won the Elections that was causing them to feel the way they felt. Neither Popovich or Van Gundy felt like talking about the games their teams had just played after making their statements to the reporters.
As a Christian, being unsilent means, among other things, casting your vote in elections – and being willing to speak up when the outcome is one you find morally troublesome. Many, including these three NBA coaches and myself, feel this is such an election. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have posted on 66 Assurance Way on a topic I typically have avoided: Politics. Regardless of who’s in the Oval Office, remember the one who sits high and looks low. The Lord is our Shepherd!
To God be the glory.
Greg Silverthorne, 66 Assurance Way