The Dallas Mavericks will play the national anthem after all.
On Wednesday, a day after owner Mark Cuban publicly acknowledged his already on-going plan of skipping the pregame anthem, the NBA responded with a league-wide reminder of its policy.
“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,” the league’s chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement.
Dallas allowed a limited number of fans into the arena on Monday for the first time this season. It had not played “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the first 13 preseason and regular-season games at American Airlines Center at his direction, per The Athletic.
Cuban quickly announced that the Mavericks will abide by the NBA’s mandate.
“We respect and always have respected the passions people have for the anthem and our country,” the billionaire businessman said in a statement. “I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard.
“The hope is that those who feel passionate about the anthem being played will be just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”
According to The Athletic, sources close to Cuban said the move was not due to a hatred of the US, but because many didn’t feel the anthem represented them. The outspoken owner has supported athletes who chose to kneel rather than stand during the anthem —“If they were taking a knee, and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” he told ESPN in July.
NBA rules require players to stand for the anthem, though commissioner Adam Silver has opted to overlook the edict in the name of “real engagement.”
The short-lived move by Cuban and the Mavericks had a number of detractors, but also received support from others in the NBA community.
“This should happen everywhere,” New Orleans Pelicans coach Van Gundy wrote of Cuban’s directive on Twitter. “If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”