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One day after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed that his team had stopped playing the national anthem before games, the NBA on Wednesday issued a statement saying that wouldn’t be the case.
“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,” the league said in a statement.
Cuban on Tuesday told ESPN that he made the decision to stop playing the national anthem before home games after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver. The Mavericks did not announce the change in policy, but the national anthem has not been played before any of their 13 preseason and regular-season games at the American Airlines Center this season.
The NBA’s rulebook requires players to stand during the national anthem, but Silver has declined to enforce that rule, particularly as kneeling during the anthem became a popular way to protest social injustice in recent years.
The vast majority of NBA players and many coaches kneeled during the national anthem during the NBA’s restart last summer in Orlando, Florida, when the league incorporated messaging supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice causes in the court design and other ways.
In a June interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Cuban expressed support for players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” Cuban said.
Cuban added then that he hoped the league would “allow players to do what’s in their heart.”