On Wednesday, the NBA released a statement declaring that all teams will be required to play the National Anthem before games as fans are welcomed back into arenas across the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said in a statement, “With NBA teams now in process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy.” This move comes right after the news that the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the anthem this season.
Of the move, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said, “It was my decision, and I made it in November.” Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, a source close to Cuban said that the decision to not play the national anthem before games was not because the franchise lacks love for the United States of America, but rather because many in the organization feel that the anthem “doesn’t represent them”.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” said Cuban, 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.”
So far, The Dallas Mavericks has hosted 12 regular-season games during the 2020-21 season, along with one preseason game, and the team did not play the anthem before any of the games.
NBA rules require players to stand during the national anthem, but Commissioner Adam Silver has not enforced it, especially as kneeling during the anthem became a popular form of silent protest over the past several years, per ESPN.