The Dallas Mavericks will no longer be playing the national anthem before their games.
This was confirmed to The Athletic by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who said that it was his decision to stop having the national anthem be played. Though the team never publicized stopping the playing of the national anthem, they have not played it before any of their home games this season, and they don’t plan to do so again for the foreseeable future.
Employees of the team said that the move to stop playing the national anthem was never announced to them, nor was it discussed internally. In fact, each of them said that they simply noticed on their own that the national anthem was no longer being played.
The Mavericks, who currently have an 11-14 record, have played twelve home games so far this season at the American Airlines Center. The team did not play the national anthem at any of their 13 preseason games, as well as those 12 regular-season matchups, including Monday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their game on Monday night was the first time this season that they had a small number of fans in the stands.
Cuban declined to offer any further comment on the situation, and the Mavericks organization declined to comment as well. Cuban reportedly made the decision to stop playing the national anthem after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has not been enforcing the official NBA rule dictating that players stand for the national anthem.
“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,” Silver said in December, according to ESPN.
Last June, Cuban voiced his support for players taking a knee during the anthem.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” he said, adding that he hopes the NBA will “allow players to do what’s in their heart.”
“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.”
“I’ll defer to [Silver] on any final judgments and [players’ union executive director] Michele Roberts,” he added. “But the reality is, my hope is we’ll let the players do exactly what they think is the right thing to do.”