The announcement of Patrick’s bill comes in reaction to a decision by Mark Cuban and the Dallas Maverick’s controversial decision to ax the national anthem before home games at American Airlines Center.
Patrick urged Cuban to “sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it.” Other GOP lawmakers suggested the tax breaks the American Airlines Center receives should come under new scrutiny.
Patrick said his bill, the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, Senate Bill 4, has received broad support.
“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,” Patrick said. “In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together — right, left, Black, white and brown.”
After some pushback, Cuban relented Wednesday and the national anthem will be played before home games this season after the NBA reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the song.
The league’s initial reaction to Cuban’s decision was to say teams were free to conduct pregame activities as they wished with the unusual circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic.
But the NBA abruptly reversed course with Cuban’s decision reverberating around the country, including a question put to White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her daily briefing. Athlete protests of social and racial injustice during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” became a flashpoint between then-President Donald Trump and various leagues during his administration.
“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,” the league said.
The Mavericks played a prerecorded anthem with both teams standing along the free throw lines, as spelled out in NBA guidelines, before Wednesday night’s game against Atlanta. In the past, Cuban always had live performances of the anthem, although that practice has changed across all sports because of the pandemic.
The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, along with a limited fan attendance, stand during the playing of the national anthem before the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.
The Mavericks released a statement from Cuban while acknowledging the club would return to playing the anthem.
“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country,” Cuban said. “But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.
“Our hope is that going forward people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them,” he said. “Then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”
Cuban declined to elaborate on his decision to not play the anthem, other than to say nobody noticed until after 11 regular-season home games.
The NBA rule book does not specifically say that the anthem — or anthems, in games involving the Toronto Raptors, the lone Canadian team in the league — must be played before games. The only rule regarding the songs states this: “Players, coaches and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines during the playing of the American and/or Canadian national anthems.”
In an interview with ESPN, Cuban said it was never his intent to quit playing the anthem for good. The outspoken billionaire said the issue was part of an ongoing conversation with people in the community and the league, particularly as fans begin returning to arenas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.