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The Dallas Mavericks will resume playing the national anthem before games

Mark Cuban has owned the Dallas Mavericks since 2000. (Martina Albertazzi/Bloomberg)

The Dallas Mavericks will again play the national anthem before home games, a day after team owner Mark Cuban confirmed to The Washington Post that they had not played the anthem this season at his direction.

“With NBA teams now in process of welcoming fans back into their arenas, all teams will play the national anthem in keeping with longstanding league policy,” NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said in the statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The Mavericks are scheduled to host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night and will play the anthem going forward.

“We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country," Cuban said in a statement. "I have always stood for the anthem with the hand over my heart — no matter where I hear it played. But we also hear the voices of those who do not feel the anthem represents them. We feel they also need to be respected and heard, because they have not been heard. 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.”

The Mavericks did not play the anthem in their first 13 preseason and regular season home games, breaking with a universal practice for professional sports in America — but one that has become fraught in recent years as athletes have seized on the moment to protest racial injustice and other causes.

Cuban denied to The Post a report from the Athletic, the first to break the story, that the organization had decided not to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the American Airlines Center moving forward.

“That is incorrect,” Cuban said in an email. “We have given no comment on what our plans are.”

Mark Cuban wasn’t the first to try to stop playing the national anthem

Cuban did not respond to questions about why he has directed the organization not to play the anthem so far this season. The team’s home game Monday was the first time this season that a limited number of fans were allowed inside the arena. The Mavericks owner came to the decision in November after consulting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, ESPN reported.

Cuban’s move comes after scores of athletes have followed the lead of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by kneeling in protest during the national anthem. While the NFL effectively blacklisted Kaepernick over the practice, the NBA has largely supported players as they have spoken out during the widespread protests tied to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The NBA has a rule that players must stand for the anthem, but it has declined to enforce it in recent years. At the NBA’s restart in Orlando last summer, most players and coaches knelt during the national anthem as the league invested in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and other social issues.

Representatives from the NBA and Dallas Mavericks did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday. An NBA spokesperson told the Athletic that “under the unique circumstances of this season, teams are permitted to run their pregame operations as they see fit.” The rest of the league’s teams have mostly played recorded versions of the anthem before games.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” has long been intertwined with sports.

The first reported instance of the song at a U.S. sporting event came in 1862, but the practice did not catch on until the 1918 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. With World War I raging, a band struck up the song during the seventh-inning stretch, resulting in thunderous applause.

A brief history of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ being played at games and getting no respect

After it was adopted as the country’s national anthem in 1931, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became ubiquitous at sporting events. And more recently, the protests started by Kaepernick have turned it into a frequent target of the culture wars. As a Post poll in September found, a majority of Americans believe it is acceptable for professional athletes to kneel during the anthem.

Most Americans support athletes speaking out, say anthem protests are appropriate, Post poll finds

The Mavericks have chosen not to play the anthem in the past. As the New York Times pointed out, the team, then owned by Donald Carter, played “God Bless America” before games for the club’s first 16 years. The team switched to “The Star-Spangled Banner” in 1996 when Ross Perot Jr. became owner, four years before Cuban took over.

Cuban’s own views on the anthem have evolved in recent years. When President Donald Trump ripped NFL players for kneeling during the anthem in 2017, Cuban applauded athletes for speaking out, but also noted that he expected Mavericks players to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” last June, the Dallas owner acknowledged that he had “learned a lot since 2017,” and now supported the players who decided to kneel.

“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” Cuban said. “Hopefully I’d join them.”

Ben Golliver contributed to this report