Mark Cuban relents on anthem after NBA reiterates policy

Mark Cuban
Richard Shotwell
FILE - Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrives at the NBA Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in this Monday, June 24, 2019, file photo. The NBA said Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, the national anthem will be played in arenas “in keeping with longstanding league policy” after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban revealed he had decided not to play it before his team's home games this season.

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban relented Wednesday and the national anthem will be played before home games this season after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song.

The league’s initial reaction to Mark Cuban’s decision was to say teams were free to conduct pregame activities as they wished with the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic. Most teams don’t have fans at home games.

But the NBA abruptly reversed course with Cuban’s decision reverberating around the country, including a question put to White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily briefing. Athlete protests of social and racial injustice during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” became a flashpoint between then-President Donald Trump and various leagues during his administration.

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“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.

The Mavericks said they would play the anthem starting Wednesday night against Atlanta, with releasing a statement.

“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” Mark Cuban said. “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.

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“Our hope is that going forward 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,” he said. “Then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”

The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season games without fans before allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend Monday’s game against Minnesota for free.

Cuban at that point declined to elaborate on his decision to not play the anthem, other than to say nobody noticed until after 11 regular-season home games

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