[This story has been updated as the Mavericks decided on Wednesday that they will continue playing the National Anthem at home games] When fans returned to the American Airlines Center to watch the Dallas Mavericks play in-person on Monday (February 8) for the first time since last year, one thing was missing from the pre-game ceremonies. The national anthem. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban quietly nixed the tradition this season, refusing to play it before home games.
Cuban said that he made the decision after consulting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. While teams do not have to play the national anthem before games, players, coaches, and trainers are required to "stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines" during the American and Canadian national anthems. The NBA has not enforced the rule after many players took a knee to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
"I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now," Silver said back in December, "and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement."
Cuban hasn't always been supportive of players who took a knee during the national anthem. In 2017, he said he expected his players to stand with their hands over the heart during the Star-Spangled Banner. He has since changed his views and even suggested he would join the players in kneeling.
"Because I think we've learned a lot since 2017," Cuban said during an interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines in June 2020. "I think we've evolved as a country. And this is really a unique point in time where we can grow as a society, we can grow as a country and become far more inclusive and become far more aware of the challenges that minority communities go through."
"So I'll stand in unison with our players, whatever they choose to do. But again, when our players in the NBA do what's in their heart, when they do what they feel represents who they are and look to move this country forward when it comes to race relationships, I think that's a beautiful thing, and I'll be proud of them," Cuban added