NBA says ‘all teams will play the national anthem’ prior to games

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Through 11 Dallas home games this season (and a couple of exhibitions before that), the Mavericks did not play the national anthem, the only NBA team not to do so. It happened on direct orders from Mark Cuban. There was no discussion of this because there were no fans in the building, and since the anthem is rarely shown on broadcasts it was barely noticed.

It became a talking point in the last 48 hours as the Mavericks let a limited number of fans back in the building.

Wednesday, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass released this statement regarding the national anthem:

“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.”

That’s a change from what NBA spokesman Tim Frank told the Associated Press:  “Under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.”

How is Cuban taking this?

Playing the anthem before a sporting event is an American tradition rarely seen in the rest of the world (outside of the World Cup and a few other events). There is a legitimate discussion to be had about whether this is something we should do before games.

Playing the anthem is tradition and plays poorly on the public relations front to skip it, so the league will make sure it gets played.

Dallas is going to have to scramble to line up a few anthem singers in the coming weeks. That said, this is pretty much a tempest in a teapot, and it’s now over.