Following a weekend where hundreds of NFL players protested during the national anthem, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on CNBC he wants to give his players a platform to share their thoughts and views.
"I told our folks that I want to give everybody a chance, all of our players and management, to go on camera and have the question asked of them, 'What does the United States of America mean to you?' And is there a topic you'd like to speak about on camera? If we want -- if they would like to have, as a team, their feelings aired on our Jumbotron before a game then rather than trying to make a point through a secondary action, whether it's taking knees, joining arms, whatever it may be, let's just say what's on our mind and let's be clear to fans what we think," Cuban said on CNBC Monday. "If we can take it from there and start a discussion in our community that's a good thing."
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The NFL player protests during the Star-Spangled Banner began last year when quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest police brutality against minorities. Since that time only a smattering of the league's roughly 1,700 players have joined him; during week two of the NFL season there were a total of six players who took part.
That changed this weekend when President Donald Trump took aim at professional athletes, first attacking protesting NFL players during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, saying, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired, he's fired."
Trump followed that up Saturday by rescinding an invitation to Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry upon learning he said he'd vote against the championship team visiting the White House.
On Sunday Trump tweeted he was pleased to share the NHL Champion Pittsburgh Penguins would visit the White House and called them a, "Great team!"
Following the president's comments Sunday more than 200 players either took a knee or refused to step onto the field during the national anthem.
The president on Monday jumped back on Twitter tweeting that the number of players who protested was a small percentage, that fans demand respect for the flag and that the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race, rather it has to do with respect for our country, the flag and the national anthem.
In his interview Monday morning, Cuban addressed Trump's comments directly saying that instead of tweeting the president should get off his phone and open a book. [[290815791,R]]
"I don’t expect him to apologize, but, you know, if this is the new presidency where our president wants to mix it up, and obviously he does, whether it’s North Korea, God help us, or sports, or me, or public figures, or anybody, then this is the new world. This is the new reality we live in and that makes him fair game," Cuban said. "I don’t think anything’s going to change one way or the other. This is who he is."
Monday is also the Mavericks' media day, the day the players meet with the media for interviews and photographs ahead of the upcoming season. During the Q&A with media, many of the players were asked about the president's comments and the large number of players who took a knee during NFL games Sunday.
Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 20th season in Dallas, said Monday people need to do their best to stick together and promote love in these divisive times. While the current champions are not planning a stop at the White House, he recalled fondly visiting the White House in 2011 after the Mavs' championship win and said it was an honor to be there and to present President Barack Obama with a jersey and basketball.
Mavs forward Harrison Barnes said he found it surprising President Trump would take the time to single out Steph Curry and thought the original message by Kaepernick had been lost with more players reacting Sunday to Trump instead of the original cause.
"It's bizarre, but at the end of the day it's still sad that a year after Kaepernick takes that knee we're still not talking about the actual issue which he took the knee for -- police brutality, systemic racism and things like that," Barnes said. "Now it's made more about Trump than what the actual cause was."
Head coach Rick Carlisle said he supports his players and whatever course of action they choose to take, if they choose to take one -- but that he was ready to talk about basketball.
"We met with our players again today and told them that we support them 100 percent - whatever they decided to do," Carlisle said. "My understanding is that they're going to talk about it and they're going to decide as a team what the best course of action is -- if there is a course of action."
Carlisle then said, "You know, I support my players. In terms of the politics of it, today is media day for the Dallas Mavericks and it's time to talk about basketball."
The Dallas Mavericks open up the preseason Oct. 2 against the Bucks.