The internet is in flames over Mark Cuban’s decision to not play the national anthem before home games. For his part, Cuban said no one noticed the tune’s absence until Tuesday.
But the Dallas Mavericks will be playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” once again, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the NBA.
The controversy first erupted Tuesday when The Athletic reported that Cuban had confirmed the anthem had not played before any of the team’s 13 preseason and regular season home games.
“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,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said in the statement.
Cuban initially declined to comment on why he had made the decision. But after the NBA weighed in, he released a statement shedding light on his thought process.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played,” Cuban said.
“But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them,” he added. “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.”
The debate over the anthem isn’t a new one for the Mavs’ owner. In the past, he expressed support for athletes who kneeled during the pregame ritual, a stance that drew criticism from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and former President Donald Trump.
On Twitter, the responses played out predictably. Some claimed that the decision was disrespectful while others supported the action. Some questioned why the anthem needed to be played before every sporting event in the first place.
But as one Twitter user said: “playing the national anthem at games is so important that they didn't realize when it wasn't being played at one arena for a quarter of the season lol.”
On Wednesday, Cruz referenced the latest news obliquely, quote-tweeting a Dallas Stars statement that said the hockey team “will continue to perform the Star-Spangled Banner prior to our games at American Airlines Center.”
“Bravo,” Cruz added, along with a trio of American flag emojis.
The national anthem debate even reached the White House on Wednesday. When a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki what President Joe Biden thought of it all, Psaki said Biden “is incredibly proud to be an American and has a great respect for the anthem and all it represents.”
Psaki added, however, that Biden is also intent on “respecting the right of people granted to them in the Constitution to peacefully protest. That’s why he ran for president in the first place, and that’s what he’s focused on doing every day.”
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