Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has reportedly confirmed that the team has ceased playing the national anthem before games and won’t do so moving forward.
The Athletic’s Tim Cato reported Tuesday that Cuban confirmed to him the new team policy. Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated report that the Mavericks have not played the anthem prior to the 13 preseason and regular-season games they’ve hosted so far this season.
The Mavericks have not publicized the change, and the team has not issued a public statement regarding the new policy. Several team employees told The Athletic that the team has not discussed the policy in internal memos and that they only noticed the absence of the anthem on Monday.
This season, the NBA is hosting games in home arenas, but most teams are doing so with limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus far, the Mavericks have hosted an average of 1,000 fans a game at American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
“…under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit," the NBA said in a statement to The Athletic.
Prior to this season, the NBA rulebook included a note that required players and coaches to stand during the anthem, according to USA Today. It's unclear if the rulebook required the playing of the anthem itself.
Cuban has previously said he would kneel for the anthem with his players, and Forbes reported in July that he doubled down on his views by tweeting that the “Anthem Police are out of control.”
The Mavericks are likely the only professional sports team in North America to currently forgo playing the national anthem before sporting events.
While the national anthem has been a fixture before sporting events since the 1920s, the practice has been viewed with a new lens since former San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem during the 2016 NFL season. Kaepernick chose to kneel to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Kaepernick faced intense scrutiny during the 2016 season, and after he opted for free agency after the season he was not offered a contract. He has not played in the NFL since. Kaepernick has become a community activist and donated more than $1 million to charitable causes.