Mark Cuban Confirms Mavericks Won't Play National Anthem Before Home Games

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2021

Dallas Mavericks team owner Mark Cuban walks across the court floor during half time of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Dallas, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks will not play the national anthem prior to home games at the American Airlines Center this season. 

They have not done so for any of their 13 preseason and regular-season home games to this point, and Mavericks governor Mark Cuban confirmed to Tim Cato of The Athletic on Monday that they will not play the song going forward even as fans return to the arena.

Monday's home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves was Dallas' first this season with limited fans in attendance. 

An NBA spokesperson said "under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit."

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first athlete to generate a number of headlines by kneeling during the national anthem as a means of protesting police brutality and racial injustice, but the practice has spread to athletes in other sports.

Many NBA players did so once the 2019-20 campaign restarted at the Walt Disney World Resort bubble, including the Mavericks.

Cato noted the NBA's rulebook requires players to stand during the anthem, although it has not been enforced in recent seasons as more athletes started doing so as a way to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Tim MacMahon of ESPN noted in July that Cuban expressed support for Mavericks players kneeling during the anthem and even got into a Twitter exchange with Senator Ted Cruz on the subject.

"The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control," Cuban tweeted. "If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don't play the National Anthem every day before you start work."

Prior to 1918, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was not regularly played before U.S. sporting events, per CNN's Calum Trenaman. The ritual began to grow in popularity during World War I and—after the song became the country's official national anthem in 1931—became more regular during World War II, per Time's Olivia B. Waxman. In 1945, NFL commissioner Elmer Layden instructed all teams to play the anthem before games, making it the first league to do so.

For now, the Mavericks will forgo the tradition.