10 of the 13 Texas Senate Democrats voted in favor of the “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act,” which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named a legislative priority after the Dallas Mavericks stopped playing the national anthem before games. Democrats in the Texas Senate overwhelmingly crossed the aisle on Thursday to vote in favor of the “Star Spangled Banner Protection Act,” a conservative-backed bill that would require any professional sports teams with contracts with the state government to play the national anthem before the start of a game.
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After the NBA ruled that all teams are required to play the national anthem once fans are welcomed back into arenas, Cuban said in a statement that he would follow the league’s policy. He added, “we respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them.” Marshall supported Cuban’s decision even though she has personally stood for the anthem ever since she was a child. As Cuban wrote in an e-mail, “she was able to provide perspectives that I didn’t have. It’s not an easy discussion, but it was an important one.”
Forty-one years later, Norm Sonju chuckles in memory of the phone call he received early in the Mavericks’ charter season, 1980-81, from then-NBA executive vice president David Stern. “What the hell are you doing?” “What do you mean?” “Coaches of other teams are calling us about the national anthem you do.” Actually the Mavericks were not playing “The Star Spangled Banner” before games but, rather, “God Bless America.”
Well into the 1970s, it wasn’t unusual for Black college athletes to don black gloves during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” as Smith and Carlos did on the medal podium in Mexico City. NBA players didn’t blatantly protest during the anthem, but while running the Buffalo franchise Sonju noticed a general lack of interest during the anthem’s playing: milling, scratching body parts, gazing around the arena. Such patriotic indifference, Sonju was convinced, would not play well in Dallas.
On April 15, 1980, Don Carter, emotionally prodded by wife Linda Jo’s love of basketball, phoned Sonju and said he wanted to make a counterproposal to the league, leading two weeks later to the Mavericks’ christening news conference at Union Station. Sonju says he told Carter he wanted to enact two unconditional rules of any player who put on a Mavericks uniform: that they never get outhustled by the opposing team, and that they line up and face the flag during the pregame anthem, except in Dallas’ case the anthem would be “God Bless America.”
It’s never too late for an opportunistic politician to jump on the controversy. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced that the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act, Senate Bill 4, will be among his legislative priorities this session. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the national anthem is played at all events which receive public funding: “It is hard to believe this could happen in Texas, but Mark Cuban’s actions of yesterday made it clear that we must specify that in Texas we play the national anthem before all major events. In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together — right, left, black, white and brown. This legislation already enjoys broad support. I am certain it will pass, and the Star Spangled Banner will not be threatened in the Lone Star State again.”
It’s Black fans, the Black players, who only matter so much in the pursuit of more money and approval of the racists who’ll never give it. One team owner, nowhere near a rabble-rouser, told this reporter the “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be replaced by “America the Beautiful.”
Gary Washburn: TD Garden played both anthems so early (with 10 minutes left on the clock prior to starting lineups), only eight #Raptors players were on the floor for the anthem. The rest were still preparing in the locker room. The same for a couple of #Celtics players.
How effective was Cuban’s latest conversation-starter? During Wednesday afternoon’s White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked what President Joe Biden thought about Cuban’s decision to halt the playing of the anthem. “I haven’t spoken with him about the decision by Mark Cuban on the Dallas Mavericks, or I should say the national anthem,” Psaki said. “But I know he’s incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women in uniform, serving around the world.
“He’d also say that, of course, that part of pride in 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 supporting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick leaped into fray, announcing that he will introduce “StarSpangled Banner Protection Act, Senate Bill 4 as one of his legislative priorities this session. He said the bill’s purpose would be to ensure that the national anthem is played at all events in Texas that receive public funding. “It is hard to believe this could happen in Texas, but Mark Cuban’s actions of yesterday made it clear that we must specify that in Texas we play the national anthem before all major events,” Patrick said in a statement.
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. What good reason is there to play the anthem before a game?
Gerald Bourguet: Monty said he’s heard arguments on both sides of the national anthem debate. He personally enjoys it, citing the times he’s heard it played at the World Cup and the Olympics and how moving those experiences were
Tim Cato: folks… they played the anthem
The NBA was aware of Cuban’s decision at the start of the season, but with fans not in attendance, it wasn’t a big deal. But fans made their return to American Airlines Center in Dallas for the first time this season on Monday, and the absence of the anthem became an issue. Though NBA gameday operations require that the national anthem be played before tipoff, Cuban was resolute that his team wouldn’t play the anthem for the remainder of the season.
“It’s an animated discussion which is certainly not surprising,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is Mark’s decision. He was steadfast about it. He had his reasons. I know he released a statement today explaining those reasons, and I also know moving forward we will be playing the anthem at all home games along with every other team in the league. It’s been quite a day.”
Fred Katz: Scott Brooks on his reaction the Mavs not playing the national anthem and the NBA’s response to it: “It’s such a unique setting. You don’t have fans. It’s totally different. I don’t know what their reason was. I just know that we play it. I enjoy it.”
Brad Townsend: Cuban on potential backlash: “When you try to do things that are hard, it’s never going to be easy. When you try to create social change it’s never going to be easy. We saw that all summer long. . .
Brad Townsend: Cuban on @The Jump says “we’re always talking to our community . . listening to the community there were many who expressed their fears about the anthem that their voices were not being heard . . during the first preseason game we decided to not play it and see the response.”
Kevin Chouinard: Solomon Hill was just asked about the national anthem, which the NBA says is going to be mandated.” “Instead of embodying the national anthem and it being something we live by and hold a certain standard to, we kind of just say it.” pic.twitter.com/ZGi3svLKKg
Shams Charania: NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass: “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.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Once fans were increasingly back in arenas, including in Dallas, there was little chance Adam Silver would let Mavs continue without playing anthem. Maybe there’s a collective conversation in NBA or sports to be had on issue, but Silver wasn’t letting one team make that decision.
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said Tuesday night that he had instructed the team to stop playing the national anthem before its home games this season. “It was my decision, and I made it in November,” Cuban said. He declined to comment further.
No players, coaches or staffers from other teams have mentioned the change, according to a team source.
Brad Townsend: I’m told the Mavs informed other other teams that they would not be playing the anthem and they received no complaints. Also there is some surprise within the organization that it took 13 games for anyone to notice, which is indicative in and of itself.
The Mavericks did not announce the new policy, but Cuban was allowed to enact it because the N.B.A. has permitted teams “to run their pregame operations as they see fit” because of “the unique circumstances this season,” according to a league spokesman.
Brad Townsend: Some @dallasmavs history/context as folks now realize they have not been and apparently will not be playing the National Athem before games: During the franchise’s first 16 seasons, it played God Bless America before games rather than the National Anthem. This is not a first.
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May 12, 2021 | 9:18 pm EDT Update
Ryan Ward: Frank Vogel on if LeBron will play in the final two games: “There’s a chance, but we’re literally taking this thing one day at a time.”
Tim Reynolds: Washington’s Davis Bertans just made the NBA’s 26,375th 3-pointer of the season. And with that, the NBA’s record for 3-pointers per game has officially fallen — for the ninth consecutive season.