The Dallas Mavericks have not been playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before home games all season, but said they would Wednesday and going forward after the NBA said all teams were required to play the national anthem.
The anthem has not been played at any of the 13 preseason and regular season games played so far at American Airlines Center at the direction of Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Mavericks communications manager Renee Felton told NBC News on Wednesday.
The Athletic was the first to notice the change during Monday's game, the first played with some fans in attendance.
Cuban confirmed to The Athletic and ESPN that he had altered the pregame ritual, but declined to explain further.
Following the news, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass issued a statement saying the anthem must be played by all teams.
“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 the statement.
Shortly after the NBA's statement was released Wednesday, Mavericks spokesman Dave Maurer said the anthem would be played before Wednesday's game.
Cuban said in a statement: “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. 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. 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," Cuban said.
The NBA’s rules have required players to stand during the anthem, NBC Sports reported. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has not enforced that rule in recent years as players chose to kneel during the anthem in protests of police brutality and social injustice.
“Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
Cuban's position on players kneeling during the anthem has changed over the years.
In 2019, when then-President Donald Trump denounced NFL players who knelt during the anthem, Cuban said: "This is America, and I'm proud of people who speak out civilly. That's who we are as a country," but "I'll be standing there with my hand over my heart. I think the players will be. I expect them to be."
In a June interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines," he changed his tune.
"If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I'd be proud of them," he said. "Hopefully I'd join them."
The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at professional sporting events in other countries.
The Mavs, in fact, did not play the anthem but instead played “God Bless America” before games during the franchise’s first 16 seasons, The Dallas Morning News reported.