As several athletes across all sports have declared they will kneel during the national anthem for their upcoming season in solidarity with the racial injustice protests around the country, one NBA owner has expressed his desire to join his players.
In an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Thursday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked what his reaction would be if he saw Mavericks players not standing during the anthem.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” he said.
Considering NBA rules explicitly state that players and coaches must stand during the national anthem, Cuban mentioned that he hopes the league can “allow players to do what’s in their heart.”
“Whether it’s holding their 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,” he said. “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.
“I’ll defer to [commissioner] Adam [Silver] on any final judgments and [players’ union executive director] Michele Roberts. But the reality is, my hope is we’ll let the players do exactly what they think is the right thing to do.”
Cuban seems to have changed his tune since 2017, when he voiced a much different opinion on athletes kneeling during the national anthem after President Donald Trump had made his opinion on the matter known.
“This is America, and I’m proud of people who speak out civilly. That’s who we are as a country,” Cuban said at the time. “I’ll be standing there with my hand over my heart. I think the players will be [standing]. I expect them to be.”
Nevertheless, since the Black Lives Matter movement has swept the nation following death of George Floyd – a black man from Minneapolis who was killed after police knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – Cuban says he’s changed his mindset.
“Because I think we’ve learned a lot since 2017,” Cuban said. “I think we’ve evolved as a country. And this is really a unique point in time where we can grow as a society, we can grow as a country and become far more inclusive and become far more aware of the challenges that minority communities go through.
“So 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.”