Mavericks plan to stop playing anthem denied by NBA


Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made the decision to stop playing the anthem before their home games. Gage Skidmore – Creative Commons

On Wednesday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced that his team would no longer play the national anthem before games. This inevitably caused controversy, although this is not the first time that the anthem has led to conflict in the world of sports.

In 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt for the anthem in protest against racial inequality and police brutality. This led to a nationwide conversation about the anthem and about the unique challenges minorities face in America. Chico State junior and women’s basketball guard Myli Martinez praised Kaepernick for his actions.

“In order for change to happen it starts with the people,” Martinez said. “We have to take risks and take action.”

Last July, after the death of George Floyd, NBA players and coaches around the league united to kneel in protest against police misconduct and racial injustice. This led to mixed emotions among sports fans, some praising the act as peaceful protest, while others viewed it as disrespectful. This was a precursor to the decision to no longer play the anthem.

The police shooting of George Floyd last year sparked outrage and protest all throughout the NBA, and led to most NBA players taking a knee before their games, during the anthem. Chad Davis – Creative Commons

In the basketball world, players have weighed in. Mavericks players, especially Willie Cauley-Stein, want to support their owners’ decision. Here at Chico State, some members of the basketball team have weighed in on the issue, including senior forward Malik Duffy.

“It’s nonviolent and a way to have a peaceful protest,” Duffy said. “No one is being harmed and it is clear when it comes to [Kaepernick] and Mark [Cuban] why they are doing it. He did it because people were coming to him whether it’d be his athletes, or people in the community and expressed that they felt their voices weren’t being heard or represented.” 

Others view standing for the anthem as a sign of respect for the country, rather than a way to protest. 

“I don’t believe in kneeling for the anthem,” said men’s basketball head coach Gregory Clink, “but I understand the reasons why people have done so in the past.” 

The country is gradually supporting individuals’ decision of whether to kneel or not during the anthem. In 2016, controversy stirred when athletes would take a knee. During the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, it was a big story when players in the NBA refused to kneel.

A protester holds a sign in support of Colin Kaepernick during. Kaepernick lost his place in the NFL after he started kneeling for the national anthem. Joe Piette – Creative Commons

For the Chico State basketball teams in, there has not been much controversy over the anthem — with Clink, Martinez and Duffy mentioning that it has not been a topic of conversation brought up by members of the team.

“The issue of standing or not standing for the anthem has not come up with the team,” Martinez said. “I strongly believe whatever decision any of us make will be respected.”

Ultimately, the choice comes down to the players and the team owners.

“They are using their platform to try and make a change and have people noticing what is going on,” Duffy said.

Martinez also shared her thoughts on kneeling for the anthem and the choice to not play it at all.

“I don’t believe kneeling or not playing the anthem is disrespectful,” Martinez said. “It stands for the injustices and wrongdoings currently going on in our country.”

The NBA trashed Cuban’s plans to ditch the national anthem, as the league put a mandate in place to ensure all teams play in their games. The anthem is a longstanding tradition for most sports, which could be why the league doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers.

“I do think the league should be able to mandate whether the anthem will be played or not,” Clink said.

It appears for now that the anthem will be played in all 30 stadiums and arenas, but it will be up to the players on deciding whether or not they will take a knee.

Connor McPherson can be reached at [email protected] @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.