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NBA says national anthem will be played by all teams due to ‘longstanding league policy’

The NBA said teams will all play the national anthem as fans return to arenas

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Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford, left, and center Nikola Vucevic, center, wear face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the singing of the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Orlando, Fl

Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford, left, and center Nikola Vucevic, center, wear face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the singing of the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Orlando, Fl

Associated Press

The NBA said Wednesday that the national anthem will be played by all teams in the league “in keeping with longstanding league policy.”

NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass told reporters in a statement: “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.”

Context

The announcement comes after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Tuesday that he has called on his team to stop playing the national anthem during home games for the 2021 season, The Athletic reported.

  • “It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban said, according to The New York Times.

In response to the recent news, Cuban said the Mavericks will resume playing the anthem on Wednesday night, per Shams Charania:

  • “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.

An NBA spokesman told The New York Times that Cuban can enact the change because the NBA’s policy allows owners to “run their pregame operations as they see fit” because of “the unique circumstances this season.”

  • Dallas was the only team to stop playing the national anthem, according to The New York Times. It’s unclear if other teams planned to join the Mavericks.

Bigger picture

The national anthem during sport events has become an issue in recent years after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem as a sign of protest for racial equality, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • During summer 2020, NBA players and coaches knelt during the national anthem ahead of NBA bubble games in order to call “attention to racial injustice and police brutality,” according to CBS News.