One day after it became known that the Dallas Mavericks would not play the national anthem before their home games, the NBA said all teams would be forced to play it.
“With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all NBA teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said Wednesday afternoon in a statement.
Dallas has played 12 regular-season home games this season. The Mavericks just opened their arena to limited fans (1,500) at their most recent home game on Monday. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed to USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt Tuesday that the team did not plan on playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at least for the remainder of this season, prior to the league’s statement.
Cuban issued a statement shortly after the NBA’s announcement.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” Cuban said. “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. Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”
The NBA was aware of Cuban’s decision at the start of the season, but with fans not in attendance, it wasn’t a big deal.
But fans made their return to American Airlines Center in Dallas for the first time this season on Monday, and the absence of the anthem became an issue. Though NBA gameday operations require that the national anthem be played before tipoff, Cuban was resolute that his team wouldn’t play the anthem for the remainder of the season.
“It’s an animated discussion which is certainly not surprising,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is Mark’s decision. He was steadfast about it. He had his reasons. I know he released a statement today explaining those reasons, and I also know moving forward we will be playing the anthem at all home games along with every other team in the league. It’s been quite a day.”
Just before Carlisle spoke, Cuban appeared on ESPN’s ‘The Jump.’
Cuban told host Rachel Nichols: “We have no problem playing the national anthem at all. I stand for the national anthem, my hand is always over my heart, we’ve supported the National Flag Foundation and done work with them. That isn’t the issue at all. The real issue is, how do you express the voices of those who feel the anthem doesn’t represent them, or causes them consternation?”
The Mavs are the only team to refrain from playing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before games. The Toronto Raptors, as they have always done, continue to play the Canadian and U.S. anthems before games.
The NBA is willing to have a discussion about playing the anthem – and perhaps other alternatives – before games with its 30 owners, but it does not want one owner going rogue.
NBA players began kneeling for the anthem last summer for games in the pandemic “bubble” to show support for racial justice and equality.
Though Cuban declined Tuesday night to elaborate on his decision to not have the anthem played before games, he had been previously outspoken on the issue.
“The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control,” Cuban said on Twitter in a July 20 tweet that was later deleted. “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.”
The Mavericks are set to begin a four-game homestand Wednesday night when they face the Atlanta Hawks.