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Dallas Mavericks have stopped playing national anthem at owner’s request

The team has not played the anthem in eleven games at American Airlines Center this season and does not plan to play the anthem in the future, a team spokesperson said.

Team owner, Mark Cuban, directed the team to stop playing the anthem before the season, according to multiple reports.

No reason was given on why this decision was made. CNN has reached out to Cuban for comment.

The Mavericks had not played a game in front of any fans until this Monday when the team welcomed 1,500 vaccinated essential workers — including first responders, medical personnel, transportation workers among others — to the arena.

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NBA anthem policy states that: “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.”

The NBA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

During the NBA’s restart in the Orlando bubble last summer, Commissioner Adam Silver declined to enforce the rule as players began kneeling for the anthem due to protests against police brutality and advocating for social justice.

In an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines in June 2020, Cuban said he hoped the league “would allow players to do what is in their heart” when it comes to the playing of the anthem.

“Whether it’s holding an arm up in the air, whether it’s taking a knee, whatever it is, I don’t think this is an issue of respect or disrespect to the flag or to the anthem or to our country. I think this is more a reflection of our players’ commitment to this country, and the fact that it’s so important to them that they’re willing to say what’s in their heart and do what they think is right.

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He later said in the interview: “I’ll stand in unison with our players, whatever they choose to do. But again, when our players in the NBA do what’s in their heart, when they do what they feel represents who they are and look to move this country forward when it comes to race relationships, I think that’s a beautiful thing and I’ll be proud of them.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the decision on Wednesday, noting that she hadn’t spoken to President Joe Biden about the announcement, “but I know that he’s incredibly proud to be an American. He has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world,” she said.

“He’d also say that, of course, that part of the pride of our country means recognizing moments where we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, which is often and at times what people are speaking to when they take action at sporting events.

“And it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest. That’s why he ran for president in the first place and that’s what he’s focused on doing every day.”

The Mavs’ next home game is on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

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