The move went unnoticed for the team’s 13 preseason and regular-season home games at the American Airlines Center. Cuban confirmed to Tim Cato of The Athletic that they will not play the Star Spangled Banner going forward even when fans return to the arena.
The NBA’s rulebook requires players to stand during the anthem, although it has not been enforced in recent seasons as more athletes sat or kneeled during the song to support the Black Lives Matter movement. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has chosen to overlook the requirement and said during a December press conference, “I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement.”
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said, “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”
The Mavericks had fans for the first time during Monday’s 127-122 win over Minnesota but played their first 10 games without fans. The team is currently 11-14.
Cuban has been outspoken about his support of those who wish to kneel during the national anthem, and challenged critics through the 2019-20 season which resumed in ‘the bubble’ in Florida last summer. Cuban told ESPN last July, “If they were taking a knee, and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them” and that he hoped he would “join them.”
The pregame national anthem has been a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level since 1918.
Ratings for the NBA fell 51 percent last season from the previous year with many blaming the prominent social justice virtue signaling on the court during the games. At the time NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would be revisiting the social justice messaging seen on the court and players’ jerseys for 2021
“I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.”
Earlier in the season it wasreported that viewers of the matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks Christmas night, peaked at 3.959 million viewers. Last season’s Christmas Day marquee matchup between the Clippers and Lakers averaged just under seven million viewers.
Silver added, “And I understand those people who are saying, ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.”