Something has been missing at Dallas Mavericks games this season — the national anthem — and team owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday he has no intention of bringing it back.
To date, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has not been played before the franchise’s 13 preseason and regular season home games, according to The Athletic. The Mavs are believed to be the first professional U.S. sports team to ditch the anthem officially.
Cuban confirmed the change in a comment to Axios, telling the outlet: “We haven’t played [the national anthem] yet this season. This is the first time it’s come up.”
ESPN reported Cuban consulted with NBA commissioner Adam Silver before making the shift away from the national anthem official. The NBA’s rulebook as it’s currently written requires players to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” although Silver has refused to enforce the regulation.
A spokesperson from the NBA told The Athletic that, “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”
The majority of NBA athletes knelt during the season’s restart last summer in Orlando, Florida, when the league fully embraced the Black Lives Matter movement by incorporating the political cause into court designs and jerseys.
“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now,” Silver said in December. “And I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement.”
Cuban, for his part, has long been in support of those who kneel during the national anthem. In June, he told ESPN: “If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully, I’d join them.”
The billionaire then tweeted in July that the “national anthem police in this country are out of control,” telling those concerned about athletes kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” they should complain to their bosses who don’t begin the work day with the anthem.
For those who might not know, “The Star-Spangled Banner” — officially adopted as the country’s national anthem in 1929 — made its national debut in American sports during the 1918 World Series, when the U.S. was in the middle of the Spanish flu pandemic. And by the end of World War II, the NFL required the anthem to be played at every game.