NBA says all teams will play national anthem after Mavericks stopped playing it before games

The NBA said Wednesday that all teams will be required to play the national anthem after the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the song before home games at the request of owner Mark Cuban.

NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said the league’s 30 franchises will be required to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” as arenas open up to fans. Most teams haven’t allowed fans in their arenas this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Bass said in a statement Wednesday.

In a statement to The Athletic, Cuban said the Mavericks will resume playing the anthem Wednesday when they face the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Center.

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

Cuban said he hopes those who are passionate about the anthem will be “just as passionate in listening to those who do not feel it represents them.”

The news comes one day after Cuban revealed that before the season, he directed his team not to play the national anthem at home games. Cuban didn’t elaborate on his decision, saying no one had noticed. The team recently allowed fans into the American Airlines Center.

An NBA spokesperson previously told The Associated Press that all teams were “permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

Cuban has been outspoken against critics of NBA players and coaches who knelt during the anthem last season. Last July, Cuban told ESPN he would hopefully join his players in taking a knee during the anthem.

Cuban also tweeted, “‘The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work.'”

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