The Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing the national anthem before home games and have no plans to start up again, team owner Mark Cuban confirmed to media outlets on Tuesday.
The Athletic first reported that the Mavericks had not played the anthem at any of the team’s 13 games at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. ESPN added that Cuban directed the team to end the practice after a discussion with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, although he did not announce the decision publicly until Tuesday’s reports.
“It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban said in a brief statement to The New York Times.
Cuban said last June that he would join any Mavericks players who took a knee during the national anthem. Athletes across several sports have protested systemic racism and police brutality in America by taking a knee during the anthem since Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, made waves in 2016 by kneeling during the anthem in protest. The act has since become a symbol of protest or solidarity but has also drawn backlash and criticism, particularly from then-President Donald Trump.
The NBA has rules mandating that players and coaches stand for the national anthem, but Cuban argued in June that it wasn’t an “issue of respect or disrespect” but rather an opportunity for players to “do what’s in their heart.”
“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,” he told ESPN at that time. “My hope is we’ll let the players do exactly what they think is the right thing to do.”
Shortly after those comments, Cuban addressed critics of his stance, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), saying on Twitter: “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.”
He deleted the message shortly thereafter.
An NBA spokesperson told Bleacher Report that the league would not intervene, saying that, “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”
Silver also said last December that he would not enforce 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,” he said.
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