Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team's home games.
The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season home games without fans. The club had fans for the first time in Monday's 127-122 win over Minnesota. Dallas is allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend games for free.
Cuban didn't elaborate on his decision not to play the anthem, saying nobody had noticed. The Athletic first reported that Dallas had dropped the anthem.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said, "Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit."
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.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tweeted his displeasure upon learning the news Wednesday morning, saying Cuban should sell the team to unnamed "Texas Patriots."
"Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at Dallas Mavs games is a slap in the face to every American and an embarrassment to Texas. Sell the franchise and some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free and the home of the brave," Patrick tweeted.
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Some Twitter users commenting on Patrick's tweet seemed split over questioning whether a government employee should be attempting to dictate how a private business exercises free speech while others focused the discussion more on Cuban's decision.
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.