UPDATE: Since publication, “The NBA is requiring that all teams play the national anthem before games “in keeping with longstanding league policy,” just one day after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Athletic the team decided not to play it at home games.”
Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank Mark Cuban has opted to stop playing the national anthem before the team’s home games, taking social justice protests that started with kneeling for the anthem to a new extreme.
From WOOD TV:
Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games.
The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season home games without fans. The club had fans for the first time in Monday’s 127-122 win over Minnesota. Dallas is allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend games for free.
Cuban didn’t elaborate on his decision not to play the anthem, saying nobody had noticed. The Athletic first reported that Dallas had dropped the anthem.
Cuban was originally one of the more outspoken critics of the national anthem protests, saying in 2017 that he expected his players to be standing for the anthem.
“This is America, and I’m proud of people who speak out civilly. That’s who we are as a country,” Cuban said at the time. “I’ll be standing there with my hand over my heart. I think the players will be [standing]. I expect them to be.”
But Cuban seemingly changed his tune over the summer amid a wave of social justice protests and riots that saw the NBA fully embrace Black Lives Matter and its cause.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” Cuban said in June.
“Whether it’s holding their arm up in the air, whether it’s taking a knee, whatever it is, I don’t think this is an issue of respect or disrespect to the flag or to the anthem or to our country,” Cuban said. “I think this is more a reflection of our players’ commitment to this country and the fact that it’s so important to them that they’re willing to say what’s in their heart and do what they think is right.”
While protesting the national anthem was initially against NBA rules, league commissioner Adam Silver has opted to relax the league’s enforcement of the rule.
“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now, and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement,” Silver said.
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