NBA Mandates National Anthem After Learning the Mavericks Stopped Playing It

Dallas played “God Bless America” before games for the franchise’s first 16 seasons before ending the practice this season

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The NBA says all teams will resume playing the national anthem Wednesday, including the Dallas Mavericks who decided this season to end the pre-game observance after 16 years.

The league's chief communications officer, Mike Bass, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon saying, "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."

That's a change from what NBA spokesman Tim Frank previously told the Associated Press: "Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit."

The NBA says all teams will resume playing the national anthem Wednesday, including the Dallas Mavericks who decided this season to end the pre-game observance after 16 years.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has relented on not playing the national anthem before home games this season. The move came shortly after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the anthem. NBC 5’s Maria Guerrero reports on the controversy.

The national anthem was played at the beginning of Wednesday night's game despite Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban saying they would no longer do it.

Some fan support Cuban's stance not to play it.

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“There are definitely people on both sides of this debate," game attendee Michael Silvosa said. "I guess I’m on one side. I do support them not playing it.  But I respect people who think they should still play it.”

“With everything going on with the social injustice and the police brutality in some of the neighborhoods we see it’s just a strong stance," game attendee Darion Ray sais. "It’s never nothing about the flag. It’s just more about getting voices heard and bringing awareness to social injustice.”

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday that he decided before this season began to not play the national anthem before the team's home games.

On Wednesday, Cuban issued the following statement saying he respected the anthem but realized some didn't feel it represented them and that he hoped this would spark courageous conversations that would help unite Americans.

“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard because they have not been. Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”

Mark Cuban

Some fans think the conversations will continue.

“Adam Silver has been doing a great job as far as the Black Lives Matter movement, as far as putting on the courts, bringing awareness and letting players have their voices heard," Ray said. "So I think once the NBAPA once they get together and sit down I’m pretty sure they’ll hash something out.”

The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season home games without fans and without the anthem. The club, which is currently allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend games for free, had fans for the first time in Monday's 127-122 win over Minnesota.

Cuban was outspoken against critics of NBA players and coaches kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" when the 2019-20 season resumed in the bubble in Florida last summer.

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

Local recording artist Britney Holmes has belted out the national anthem at Mavericks games for 20 years.

“It brought me a sense of power that I could bring people together with this son and my voice,” she said.

Holmes says as a bi-racial woman, she understands those who feel torn about the Star Spangled Banner.

“Some people love the national anthem. It is a sense of pride and unity for our country and also the people who have fought for it,” she said. “And then there are people who don’t like the national anthem at all because of its history and its context in which it was written, who it was written by. It’s not very inclusive to people who look like me.”

The national song has not always been a part of American sports, explains professor of history at Dallas College Mountain View Andrew McGregor.

“It started really in wartime,” he said. “It’s really been linked to patriotism and then by the end of World War II, it kind of became expected.”

After serving 23 years in the Marine Corps., veteran Ramiro Arreola of Fort Worth says he was personally insulted by Cuban’s decision.

“To play the national anthem to me, is honorable,” he said.

Asked if his service for the country wasn’t also to meant protect all people’s freedom, including Cuban’s decision for his organization.

“That’s a freedom that they have, the privilege of, I agree with that,” Arreola said. “But then again, if they’re going to pick and choose when they’re going to play…make a decision.”

Holmes welcomes the reversal of the policy, saying it's another opportunity to sing the national anthem. She hopes this situation leads to healthy discussions.

“You can’t please everyone,” said Holmes. “If everyone can open their hearts and open their minds to why decisions like that are made… I think we can all just use a little bit of empathy right now.”

NBC 5 and The Associated Press
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