Mark Cuban now says Mavericks ‘didn’t cancel’ national anthem

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Following blowback for not playing the national anthem before games, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he did not “cancel” the song that has become the subject of social protests in recent years after having been a staple at sporting events since World War I.

Cuban told ESPN’s “The Jump” that the team was having ongoing conversations about whether to play “The Star Spangled Banner,” but that “we probably would have ended up playing it at some point when fans came back.”

The national anthem, however, was not played at Dallas’ arena Monday night, when some fans were invited to watch the game in-person for the first time this season.

Up until that point, it hadn’t been documented that Cuban had told the team ahead of the season to stop playing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the American Airlines Center moving forward.

On Wednesday, the NBA said it would require all teams to play the national anthem.

The Mavericks played the national anthem before Wednesday’s game and all players appeared to stand. Several fans cheered afterward.

“We didn’t cancel the national anthem,” Cuban said on ESPN before tip-off. “We still had our flag flying proud up on the wall at the American Airlines Center and everybody had the opportunity to address it and pray to it or salute to it or whatever their feelings are.”

The 62-year-old Pittsburgh native added that, “in listening to the community, there were quite a few people who voiced their concerns, really their fears that the national anthem did not fully represent them, that their voices were not being heard.”

The NBA in past years has declined to enforce a rule requiring players to stand for the anthem, in wake of athletes across all sports kneeling during in it in protest of social injustices.

Cuban wasn’t the first to try to cut off the national anthem. In 1954, then-Baltimore Orioles general manager Arthur Ehlers stopped playing it before every game because “it tends to cheapen the song and lessen the thrill of response,” he said, according to The Washington Post

Ehlers later relented.

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