The NBA says it expects all teams to play the national anthem before matches after the owner of the Dallas Mavericks said the franchise would not do so again this season.
Dallas have not played the anthem at 13 pre-season and regular-season games at the direction of team owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban later confirmed the anthem would be played before Dallas’ game against Atlanta on Wednesday night.
Which game do you want to watch a player's warm-up from before tonight's ESPN doubleheader? #NBAVote
— NBA (@NBA) February 10, 2021
In a statement on Wednesday, NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said: “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.”
Since the NBA resumed last year, a league rule that requires players to stand during the anthem has not been enforced.
The Mavericks did not publicise the anthem’s removal or announce the decision to team staff. They welcomed a limited number of fans back to the American Airlines Center for the first time this season for Monday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Responding to the NBA’s statement, Cuban, who has previously supported the right of players to kneel during the anthem to protest against racial injustice, said: “I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart – no matter where I hear it played.
Statement by Mark Cuban pic.twitter.com/OmtMNFUz1K
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) February 10, 2021
“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.”