Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, told ESPN that his team will no longer be playing the national anthem before home games.
The decision is not temporary and the team has no intention of resuming the long-held tradition. The Mavericks are the first major American sports team to stop the playing of the national anthem.
The Mavericks have not played the national anthem before any of their 13 preseason and regular-season games. But until now, Cuban had not publicly announced the policy change.
Before making the decision, Cuban consulted with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, according to ESPN.
“The NBA’s rulebook requires players to stand during the national anthem, but Silver has declined to enforce that rule, particularly as kneeling during the anthem became a popular way to protest social injustice in recent years. The vast majority of NBA players and many coaches kneeled during the national anthem during the NBA’s restart last summer in Orlando, Florida, when the league incorporated messaging supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice causes in the court design and other ways,” ESPN reported.
Cuban has supported players’ decision to kneel during the anthem as a form of protest.
“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 told ESPN’s Outside the Lines in June. “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. But the reality is, my hope is we’ll let the players do exactly what they think is the right thing to do,” he added.
Kneeling during the national anthem began in the summer of 2016 when then 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and then knelt during the national anthem. Kaepernick said his decision to kneel was a form of protest against police brutality and racial injustice.