NBA Orders Teams to Play Anthem After Mavericks Owner Skips It


The NBA issued a tersely worded statement Wednesday saying teams must play the national anthem at games, an apparent response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s decision to skip it this season.

“With NBA teams now in the process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said.

Cuban, an outspoken billionaire famous for appearances on TV’s “Shark Tank,” told the Athletic that he had decided to stop playing the anthem at games. “The Star-Spangled Banner” wasn’t performed during 13 games at the Maverick’s home arena this season, but it went unnoticed until a limited number of fans were allowed back to the venue for Monday’s contest. Some teams have been letting spectators return as the pandemic eases.

In a follow-up statement to the Athletic, Cuban said he would resume playing the anthem starting with Wednesday’s game.

“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,” he said.

The anthem has been a source of contention for all the major U.S. sports leagues, with some players kneeling during it to as a form of protest. Cuban has said in the past that he’s proud of players who have done so.

“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” Cuban told ESPN in June. “Hopefully I’d join them.”

Cuban didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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