Sports

Dallas Mavericks stop playing national anthem before home games at the direction of owner Mark Cuban

Elisha Fieldstadt
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Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks reacts against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena on February 28, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
Michael Reaves | Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing the national anthem before home games at the direction of owner Mark Cuban, a Mavericks spokeswoman said.

The anthem has not been played at any of the 13 preseason and regular season games played so far at American Airlines Center, Mavericks communications manager Renee Felton told NBC News on Wednesday.

The Athletic was the first to notice the change during Monday's game, the first played with some fans in attendance.

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Cuban confirmed to The Athletic and ESPN that he had altered the pregame ritual, but declined to explain further.

The NBA's rules require players to stand during the anthem, NBC Sports reported. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has not enforced that rule in recent years as players chose to kneel during the anthem in protests of police brutality and social injustice.

"Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

Cuban's position on players kneeling during the anthem has changed over the years.

In 2019, when then-President Donald Trump denounced NFL players who knelt during the anthem, Cuban said: "This is America, and I'm proud of people who speak out civilly. That's who we are as a country," but "I'll be standing there with my hand over my heart. I think the players will be. I expect them to be."

In a June interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines," he changed his tune.

"If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I'd be proud of them," he said. "Hopefully I'd join them."

Cuban even got in a Twitter spat with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, over the issue in July.

The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at professional sporting events in other countries.

The Mavs, in fact, did not play the anthem but instead played "God Bless America" before games during the franchise's first 16 seasons, The Dallas Morning News reported.