The Dallas Mavericks had stopped playing the national anthem before home games at the direction of owner Mark Cuban, he confirmed to ESPN last week.
The Mavericks did not plan to resume the tradition to play the national anthem before games in the future, until the NBA stepped in and basically forced them to do so going forward.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” he said in a statement. “I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart—no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard. 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.”
Over the weekend, Jemele Hill weighed in on the situation and she completely agreed with the Mavs on their stance with the Anthem.
“Playing the anthem shouldn’t be a pregame ritual in American sports,” @jemelehill writes. “Not during a time when many people—including many athletes of color—are deeply uncomfortable with how patriotic symbols have been weaponized.”
The Mavs had actually not played the Anthem for 13 consecutive preseason and regular season home games before anybody ever took notice of it. The NBA found out and issued a statement declaring that every team must play the song, in accordance with league rules.
“But the Mavericks should have held their ground, because playing the anthem shouldn’t be a pregame ritual in American sports. Not during a time when many people—including many athletes of color—are deeply uncomfortable with how patriotic symbols have been weaponized to undermine and diminish the humanity of Black and brown Americans.”
“Instead of forcing Cuban’s team to back down, the NBA as a whole should revisit its anthem rule. Other leagues should do the same. The ritual enforces a rote, narrow idea of patriotism—one that pro sports should be working to change, not uphold.”
The vast majority of NBA players and many coaches kneeled during the national anthem during the NBA’s restart last summer in Orlando, Florida.
“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now, and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement,” Silver said during a news conference in December.