NBA Says All Teams Will Play National Anthem After Dallas Mavericks Stopped the Pre-Game Tradition
The NBA says all teams must play the National Anthem before games, after the Dallas Mavericks stopped the tradition at the direction of owner Mark Cuban.
"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 on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Cuban confirmed to ESPN and also to The New York Times that he had given the Mavericks the directive to halt the anthem before home games.
"It was my decision, and I made it in November," the Shark Tank star told the NYT.
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The team never announced the change, but the Mavericks have not played the "Star-Bangled Banner" at any preseason or regular season games played at the American Airlines Center thus far, PEOPLE confirmed Tuesday.
Cuban had confirmed to The Athletic — which was the first the report the news — that the team did not plan to play the anthem going forward, either.
However, a spokesperson for the Mavericks told PEOPLE on Wednesday that "the anthem will play tonight" before the team's home game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Cuban also issued a statement of his own in response to the team's decision to resume playing the anthem.
"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," he said. "We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been."
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He continued, "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 has been outspoken against people who criticized players for kneeling during the National Anthem over the past several seasons.
In June 2020, Cuban told ESPN that he hoped his players would be allowed "to do what's in their heart" despite an NBA rule that expects players and coaches to stand during the anthem.
"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."
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