A NBA coach’s statement on athletes who kneel during the national anthem has the potential to shut down every individual who claim protesters are disrespecting the American flag and veterans.

On Tuesday, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wrote an essay for TIME magazine addressing the NFL protests that have stirred controversy:

“Honoring America has to mean much, much more than standing at attention for a song (one which, by the way, contains racist language in later verses). One of the most important freedoms that our military has fought for over two-plus centuries is the freedom of speech. When these professional athletes protest during the anthem, they are exercising one of the very freedoms for which our military men and women fought so valiantly, thus honoring our highest values and, in turn, those who have fought for them.”

He then went on to clarify the difference between nationalism and patriotism and explain why the protesting athletes fall into the latter.

“Nationalism, he said, is supporting your country no matter what, right or wrong,” he continued. “Patriotism, on the other hand, is caring so deeply about your country that you take it as your duty to hold it accountable to its highest values and to fight to make it the very best it can be. Under this definition, these athletes and coaches are role models of American patriotism.”

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