Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he’ll reverse a policy of not playing the national anthem before games.
The Mavericks had previously done away with playing “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to games, omitting the usual pregame ritual for their first 13 home games of the season.
Cuban’s concession comes after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song. The NBA had previously said that due to the unusual circumstances surrounding COVID-19, teams were free to conduct their pregame as they saw fit.
“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 said, according to The Associated Press.
The Mavericks played a prerecorded anthem with both teams standing along the free throw lines, as spelled out in NBA guidelines, before Wednesday night’s 118-117 win over Atlanta.
All players and coaches stood, including Dallas coach Rick Carlisle.
“It’s an animated discussion, which is certainly not surprising,” Carlisle said before the game. “This was Mark’s decision. He was steadfast about it. It’s been quite a day.”
The Mavericks released a statement from Cuban, noting that the team will return to playing the anthem.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” Cuban said. “But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been."
During a recent interview with ESPN, Cuban said it was never his intention to quit playing the anthem for good.
“We have no problem playing the national anthem at all,” Cuban said. “I stand for the national anthem. My hand is always over my heart. The real issue is how do you represent the voices of those who feel the anthem doesn’t represent them or causes them consternation.”
Dallas players Jalen Brunson and Willie Cauley-Stein said they felt Cuban was showing support for them, and they appreciated it.
“One thing I’ll say about Mark is he’s not scared of what’s being talked about,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s not just a business to him. When you get to this level, it’s such a business. And when you’ve got a guy that shows his full character and he’s not being a businessman and he’s like human, that’s big-time for a player to go through.”