DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - The NBA issued a statement Wednesday about a "longstanding league policy" regarding the national anthem as fans are making their way back to arenas.
The NBA 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."
This comes a day after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team has not played the anthem before home games, so far, this season, as first reported by The Athletic.
Cuban didn't explain the decision and said that nobody had noticed.
The Mavericks confirmed they will be playing the anthem starting with Wednesday night's home game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Cuban issued the following today regarding the national anthem:
"We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. 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. Going forward, our hope is that 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. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us."
For the first 10 home games, the Mavericks didn't have fans in the stands. The team will be allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend four home games between Feb. 8 and Feb. 14 for free.
The move to stop playing the anthem before home games wasn't without support among NBA coaches.
"This should happen everywhere," New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy tweeted Wednesday. "If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?"
The question Van Gundy raises has been debated for some time.
The NBA rule book does not specifically say that the anthem — or anthems, in games involving the Toronto Raptors, the lone Canadian team in the league — must be played before games. The only rule regarding the songs states this: "Players, coaches and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems."
That rule was relaxed last year in the NBA's restart bubble at Walt Disney World, when the league took no objection to players kneeling for the anthem to show their desire for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
Players were criticized for kneeling; some of those who stood, such as Miami's Meyers Leonard and Orlando's Jonathan Isaac, also faced backlash on social media for choosing to stand. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and coach of the U.S. men's national team, also stood for anthems in the bubble.
It's not uncommon for some players to simply not be on the floor for the anthem, exiting for the locker room shortly before the end of the warm-up period for various reasons such as bathroom breaks before returning when starting lineups are introduced.
Though intended to be a solemn hymn, it's almost never treated as such — fans in many arenas routinely shout over the final lines, break into applause before the song is complete and often insert their own touches into the song such as NHL fans in St. Louis chanting "Blues" over the anthem's actual last word, "brave."
Psaki said she had not spoken to President Joe Biden about the issue.
"I know he's incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents," Psaki said. "He'd also say, of course, that part of pride in our country means recognizing where we as a country haven't lived up to our highest ideals."
Backlash to ending the anthem was swift in the Texas Capitol, where Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged Cuban to "sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it." Other GOP lawmakers suggested the tax breaks the American Airlines Center receives should come under new scrutiny.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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