DALLAS (AP/KXAN) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday he decided before this season began not to play the national anthem before the team’s home games.
The Mavericks played their first 10 regular-season home games without fans. The club had fans for the first time in Monday’s 127-122 win over Minnesota. Dallas is allowing 1,500 vaccinated essential workers to attend games for free.
Cuban didn’t elaborate on his decision not to play the anthem, saying nobody had noticed. The Athletic first reported Dallas had dropped the anthem.
Since those Tuesday comments, Cuban has stirred a wave of reaction from the league to Texas lawmakers.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sent a tweet Wednesday morning vehemently disagreeing with Cuban’s decision.
“Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at Mavericks games is a slap in the to every American and an embarrassment to Texas,” he said, in part. He also said Cuban should sell the team and “some Texas Patriots will buy it.”
Additionally, Patrick announced a new legislative priority for this session — the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, Senate Bill 4.
“The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the national anthem is played at all events which receive public funding,” Patrick wrote on his website.
“It is hard to believe this could happen in Texas, but Mark Cuban’s actions of yesterday made it clear that we must specify that in Texas we play the national anthem before all major events. In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together — right, left, black, white and brown. This legislation already enjoys broad support. I am certain it will pass, and the Star Spangled Banner will not be threatened in the Lone Star State again,” Patrick said in a statement.
Texas Democrats released a statement in response, which read, in part: “If only Dan Patrick and the rest of his Trump Republican brethren cared more about a violent right-wing mob attempting to overthrow our Capitol than they do about what a private organization chooses to play at their home games.”
The NBA issued a statement Wednesday that said, in part, all NBA teams will play the anthem “in keeping with long-standing league policy.” Fans are now being allowed back in NBA arenas across the league.
Cuban said in an interview with the New York Times he’s “good” with the policy.
Cuban was outspoken against critics of NBA players and coaches kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” when the 2019-20 season resumed in the bubble in Florida last summer.
The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at pro sporting events in other countries.