NEW YORK - The NBA on Wednesday ordered its team to play the US national anthem before games, a day after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed he instructed his team not to play it.
Cuban told ESPN he directed the anthem not be played before Mavericks home games this season -- a decision he said was made after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver -- and said the team didn't plan to resume the tradition.
Only hours after the news broke, the league countermanded that move.
"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," NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement.
NBA teams have played in home arenas this season but few have welcomed back fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic and then only in reduced capacity socially distanced settings with face masks required.
After the NBA pulled the plug on his anthem-less contests, Cuban released a statement focused on the broader issue of the US anthem instead of the NBA's reversal after allowing his move.
"We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country," Cuban said. "But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them.
"We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been."
"Going forward, our hope is that people will take the same passion they have for this issue and apply the same amount of energy to listen to those who feel differently from them.
"Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us."
An NBA rule requires players to stand when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played but that rule hasn't been enforced as players have used kneeling during the anthem as a way to protest social injustice, notably during last year's quarantine bubble games after Black Lives Matter protests.
© Agence France-Presse