The Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing the national anthem before games per the request of owner Mark Cuban, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic.
“None of 13 preseason and regular-season games played at the American Airlines Center this season have featured the anthem before the game, including Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the first played this season with a limited amount of fans in attendance,” said Cato “The Mavericks did not publicize the anthem’s removal, and The Athletic was the first media organization to reach out about the change after noticing its absence on Monday. Multiple team employees described only noticing the anthem’s removal on their own, as it was also not announced or explained internally.”
Cuban made the decision after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, according to ESPN. No players, coaches, or staff members from other teams have acknowledged the decision.
The NBA’s rulebook requires players to stand during the anthem, but after George Floyd’s death, Silver no longer has enforced that rule as players began to kneel during the anthem. Almost all players and coaches kneeled during the anthem when the NBA restated last summer.
“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,” said Silver during a news conference in December.
Cuban had previously been against kneeling, but recently flipped on the issue.
“This is America, and I’m proud of people who speak out civilly. That’s who we are as a country,” said Cuban in 2017. “I’ll be standing there with my hand over my heart. I think the players will be (standing). I expect them to be.”
In an interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines in June, Mark Cuban supported the players’ decision to kneel.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” said Cuban.
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.”
The anthem controversy started when Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem due to Kaepernick’s belief that the US “oppresses minorities” and allows cops to “get away with murder.”
This protest has spilled to almost every professional sport.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” said Kaepernick back in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” continued Kaepernick. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
During a practice in 2016, Kaepernick wore socks that depicted police as pigs.
“I wore these socks, in the past, because the rogue cops that are allowed to hold positions in police departments, not only put the community in danger, but also put the cops that have the right intentions in danger by creating an environment of tension and mistrust,” said Kaepernick.
This is the first instance of a professional team refusing to perform the national anthem before games, and likely will not be the last.