The Dallas Mavericks’ and team owner Mark Cuban are embroiled in controversy after the NBA overruled their decision to stop playing the national anthem before games, according to ESPN. 

On Monday, staff members of the team revealed to The Athletic that the team hasn’t played the song before any of their 13 home games at American Airlines Center this season. The decision went under the radar because there are no fans attending the games due to COVID-19 restrictions. The team had their first fan-attended game on Monday. 

Cuban refused to elaborate about the change to the news outlet and the NBA initially told them that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

The move immediately caused major headlines among conservative news outlets akin to the reaction when former NFL star Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the song.

Cuban has long been one of the few NBA owners who said he would not mind if his players knelt or did something else during the national anthem, according to Yahoo Sports. But the NBA has fairly strict rules requiring players to stand during the anthem. Despite the rule, Commissioner Adam Silver said it would not be enforced and acknowledged how sensitive the issue was politically. 

“I recognize that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now. I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement,” Silver told Yahoo Sports in December. Many players knelt during the NBA playoff games that took place last summer. 

But as the story spread across the country, conservative politicians seized on it, harshly criticizing the NBA and Cuban for not playing the song before games. By Wednesday, the NBA went back on its decision, issuing a brief statement. 

“With NBA teams now in process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said.

Cuban released his own statement saying he would abide by the NBA’s rules and play the song before games. 

“We respect and have always have respected the passions 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,” Cuban said in a statement shared with The Athletic reporter Shams Charania.

“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 passionated in listening to those who do not feel it represents them,” Cuban added. 

The team played the national anthem before their game on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

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