UPDATED 02/10/21 2:00 p.m. ET: The NBA has announced that all of its teams will play the national anthem before games, “in keeping with longstanding league policy.” The statement appears to be a direct response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban telling his team to stop playing the song before games.
Mark Cuban told New York Times reporter Marc Stein that “we are good with it,” in response to the new league directive. The Mavericks are expected to play the anthem prior to their game against the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday.
Cuban later explained in a full statement:
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been,” the statement read.
Original story below.
The national anthem has become a hot topic in professional sports over the last several years. Ever since Colin Kaepernick began the #TakeaKnee movement back in 2016, the public has debated whether athletes should be forced to stand during the pre-game tradition or allowed to exercise their right to protest.
According to The Athletic’s Tim Cato, the franchise has stopped playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” completely. The outlet points out that the Mavericks have not featured the song before any of their home games this season. Some people noticed this during the Mavericks’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, which marked the first time a limited number of fans were allowed into American Airlines Center.
Cuban confirmed the national anthem decision to The Athletic on Monday night. The outlet reports some Mavericks staffers were unaware of the move, as it was reportedly “not announced or explained internally.”
The NBA rule book states that all “players, coaches and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems”; however, a league spokesperson told The Athletic that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”
On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania shared more information, citing a source who said the decision “isn’t because they don’t love” the U.S., but rather the team does not feel the national anthem represents them.
Cuban and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz traded jabs over the national anthem back in October. It all began after a Texas radio host claimed he would no longer support the Mavericks once a player kneeled during the anthem. Cuban responded in a since-deleted tweet that read: “The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.”
Cruz wasn’t pleased with Cuban’s dismissive response and ignited a heated exchange that referenced everything from Hong Kong to COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter movement.