Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games.
The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season home games without fans, but recently decided to allow 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend games for free.
Cuban didn’t elaborate on his decision not to play the anthem, saying nobody had noticed.
In response, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass released a statement saying, “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.”
Shortly after the statement was released, Cuban responded by saying his team will resume playing the national anthem before tonight’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, according to the Athletic.
“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,” Cuban said in the statement.
Cuban was outspoken against critics of NBA players and coaches kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” when the 2019-20 season resumed in the bubble in Florida last summer.
It’s worth noting that the NBA has ignored “longstanding league policy” surrounding the national anthem in the past. The NBA has a rule prohibiting players from kneeling for the national anthem, but Commissioner Adam Silver did not enforce that rule during the NBA season restart in Disney World in 2020.
“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our longstanding rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” Silver told Yahoo in 2020.
The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at pro sporting events in other countries.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the situation during today briefing saying, “I haven’t spoken with the President about the decision by Mark Cuban.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.