Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to ax the national anthem before home games drew mixed reactions from NBA coaches around the league on Wednesday.
Upon the franchise’s initial decision to stop playing the anthem, Cuban and the Mavericks found support from New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy.
“This should happen everywhere. If you think the anthem needs to be played before sporting events, then play it before every movie, concert, church service and the start of every work day at every business,” he tweeted. “What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?”
Amid the frenzy over the decision, the NBA released a statement Wednesday mandating teams play “The Star-Spangled Banner” in their pregame festivities to follow the league’s policy. Cuban and Mavericks both released statements supporting the decision to do so.
Cuban told ESPN before Dallas’ game Wednesday night that he wasn’t trying to “cancel” the anthem.
“We’re always talking to our community. That’s something [Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall] stands for and is very insistent upon and has become a core part of who we are at the Dallas Mavericks,” Cuban said on “The Jump.”
“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,” he continued.
“So we’ve had a lot of conversations about whether or not we should play the anthem. And so during the first preseason game, we decided to not play it and just see what the response was, knowing that we were going to have ongoing conversations about it. We didn’t make any decision to never play the national anthem then — that wasn’t the case at all. We didn’t cancel the national anthem. 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.”
“There was never any final decision that was made that we would not play the anthem,” Cuban added.
The Mavericks played a pre-recorded anthem before their game. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle opened up about the anthem after the game.
“It’s a logical progression,” Carlisle said of the debate about playing the anthem at all, via the team’s website. “And I think anything like this, any time you have a result from something like this, you got to embrace it.
“This is an opportunity for people to look at things a different way,” he added. “And whether you agree or disagree, we must all agree that as Americans, we support the right to choose how we express ourselves. And that’s another fundamental thing that’s very important with this.”
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams said that from his experience, he enjoyed the song in the pregame.
“I’ve also experienced the anthem in the World Cup and the Olympics, which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of, was hearing our anthem in a foreign country before you compete or at the end when you win,” Williams said. “So for me, as much as I can appreciate both sides of the coin, it does hold a special place in my heart because of what I’ve experienced.”
The Suns have played the anthem in each home game this season despite the lack of fans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.