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The Dallas Mavericks Decided To Stop Playing The National Anthem; The NBA Says That's Not An Option

Mark Cuban standing in hoodie and mask on Dallas Maverick's home court.
Tony Gutierrez
/
AP
Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban walks across the court floor during half time of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Dallas, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

The Dallas Mavericks basketball team has not begun a home game this season with the national anthem.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he was committed to continuing to forego playing the national anthem, even as the controversy’s spreading on social media.

But Wednesday afternoon, the NBA formally weighed in, issuing a statement saying with teams now welcoming back fans "all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy."

After the NBA laid down the policy, Cuban reversed course, issuing his own statement:

"We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard," Cuban said.

"The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them."

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick entered the fray Wednesday afternoon with a Senate bill titled the Star-Spangled Banner Protection Act. Its purpose is to ensure that the anthem is played at all events that receive public funding.

"In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together — right, left, black, white and brown," Patrick said in a press release. "This legislation already enjoys broad support."

At first, people barely noticed the song's absence from Mavs games with the pandemic and no fans at the first NBA games. Sports news outlet The Athletic mentioned it Tuesday.

After a round of press coverage and discussion on social media Wednesday, Cuban is now being both praised and denigrated.

With some athletes choosing in recent years to kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice, this is just the latest in the continued cultural discussion around the national anthem at sporting events, dating back to 1968 when Black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a black-gloved fist during the song at the Olympics.

NBA National Anthem Basketball
Jack Dempsey
/
AP
Members of the Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks lock arms and take a knee during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game in Denver, in this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, file photo. The NBA said Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, the national anthem will be played in arenas “in keeping with longstanding league policy” after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed he had decided not to play it before his team's home games this season.

In the past, Cuban has expressed support for players who knelt during the "Star Spangled Banner." In a tweet this summer he said, if you want to complain, ask your boss why they don’t play the national anthem every day before you start your work.

This is a developing story.

Got a tip? Email Reporter Bill Zeeble at bzeeble@kera.org. You can follow him on Twitter @bzeeble.

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