Cuban supposedly made the decision to not play the national anthem at home during the pre-season. Sources close to Cuban told the sports news website The Athletic on Wednesday, Feb. 10, that the decision was made "not because they don't love the U.S., but because many feel the anthem doesn't represent them and they want to continue discussion of how to represent people from all communities when honoring the U.S. at the game."
"With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy," said NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass in a statement issued following concerns regarding league rules.
This statement from the league appeared to be a reversal from its initial response to the news. NBA Spokesman Tim Frank earlier said: "Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit."
According to ESPN, Cuban reportedly made the decision last year to not play the national anthem after he consulted with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
NBA rules require players to stand during the national anthem. But due to the popularity of launching a silent protest to supposed social injustices while the national anthem is playing, Silver has declined to enforce this rule. Many players and coaches used that opportunity to kneel during the national anthem when the NBA restarted the 2019-2020 season in the Orlando bubble.
"I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now," said Silver during a conference back in December. "And I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement."
Cuban expressed his support and said that he would allow players to do "what's in their heart," including kneeling during the anthem. He even suggested that he would join them if he were there. (Related: Billionaire Mark Cuban is "OK doing business with China" despite communist country's outrageous human rights violations and organ harvesting operations.)
"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," said Cuban. "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 went on to say that if Silver or the NBA players' union decided that it would be better for the athletes to stand during the anthem, then he would comply with NBA regulations.
After the NBA announced that it would abide by its "longstanding league policy," Cuban relented and said that the team would go back to playing the national anthem before the Mavericks' home games for the entirety of the season.
In the past, Cuban would hire bands to hold live performances of the anthem, but this practice had to be discontinued because of the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
During the Mavericks' latest game with the Atlanta Hawks, a prerecorded anthem was played. Both teams followed NBA guidelines and stood along the free throw lines during the anthem. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle also stood with his right hand over his heart.
"It's an animated discussion, which is certainly not surprising," said Carlisle before the game, referring to the issue with regards to the national anthem. "This was Mark's decision. He was steadfast about it. It's been quite a day."
Following his reversal, Cuban on behalf of the Mavericks put out a 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. 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."
Cuban refused to elaborate on why he decided to not play the anthem. Instead, he commented on the fact that nobody noticed until after 11 home games in the regular season.
Learn more about other attempts to infuse apolitical events with social justice messages by reading the latest articles at SocialJustice.news.