Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban has confirmed to ESPN that he directed his team to stop playing the national anthem before home games.
The move is not temporary and the team has no anticipation of resuming the long-standing tradition. The Mavericks have now become the first major American sports team to officially end the playing of the national anthem.
The Mavericks have not played the anthem before any of their 13 preseason and regular-season games. Though, until now, Cuban had not publicly confirmed the policy change.
Cuban decided to stop playing the anthem after consultation with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, according to ESPN.
As ESPN reports:
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.
Cuban has supported the desire of NBA players 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.”
The anthem-kneeling movement began in the summer of 2016 when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat, and then knelt during the playing of the anthem. Kaepernick claimed his decision to kneel was a form of protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Since that time, the practice of kneeling during the anthem has been adopted by Major League Baseball players, NBA players, MLS and World Cup soccer players, and Olympic athletes.