NBA opposes Mavericks stance, says all teams will play national anthem

The Dallas Mavericks have not played the national anthem before any of their 13 home games this season. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 3 | The Dallas Mavericks have not played the national anthem before any of their 13 home games this season. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 10 (UPI) -- NBA teams will continue play the national anthem before games, in accordance with policy, the league said Wednesday. The directive came a day after the Dallas Mavericks announced they no longer would play the song.

"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," NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement.


Dallas has not played the Star-Spangled Banner before any of the 13 games -- regular season or preseason -- played this season at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban responded shortly after the league issued the statement and said the team will resume the tradition and play the anthem Wednesday in Dallas.

"We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country," Cuban said in a statement issued to The Athletic. "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 respected and heard."

Cuban told ESPN, The Athletic and the Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that he directed the team to stop the pregame tradition. Cuban did not specify a reason for the decision at the time, but said he consulted NBA commissioner Adam Silver on the issue last November.

NBA rules have required players to stand during the national anthem since the 1980s, but Silver has not disciplined players who have knelt in recent years in protest.

The kneeling protests have been a response to social injustice, but also have drawn criticisms and become a controversial topic in the United States. Nearly every major U.S. professional sports league have seen players take a knee during the anthem in protest.

The Mavericks played God Bless America before games for the franchise's first 16 years of existence before it began playing the national anthem in 1996.

The Mavericks were believed to be the first U.S. sports franchise to remove the anthem for home games before they decided to resume the tradition.


The NHL's Dallas Stars, who share American Airlines Center with the Mavericks, on Wednesday also issued a statement in opposition to Cuban's decision to stop playing the national anthem.

"The playing of the national anthem is a time-honored tradition and the Dallas Stars will continue to perform the Star-Spangled Banner prior to our games at American Airlines Center.

"As the only NHL team in Texas, we are proud to represent our state and country."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the NBA's 30 teams have not allowed fans to attend games this season.

On Monday, the Mavericks invited 1,500 "essential" workers to attend at no cost, and it was the first time the team allowed fans to attend a game in nearly a year.

About 1,000 of the workers, who have been vaccinated, came to the American Airlines Center.

Dallas next hosts the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 p.m. EST Wednesday.

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