Texas Republicans attack Mark Cuban over anthem decision

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As one of the most outspoken sports franchise owners in the country, Mark Cuban has a way of generating headlines. Several Texas lawmakers are castigating Cuban after he announced that the Dallas Mavericks had recently stopped playing the national anthem at their games — a decision that was reversed after the NBA weighed in on Wednesday.

The anthem had not been played before any of the preseason games nor any of the regular season games at American Airlines Center, home to the Mavericks. The fact that the Mavericks were over a third of the way through the season, and people were just now noticing about the anthem, was perhaps telling.

Mark Cuban initially confirmed reporting from The Athletic about the decision. In an interview with Axios, Cuban said that, “we haven’t played [the anthem] yet this season. This is the first time it’s come up.”

The backlash from conservative pundits and legislators came swiftly for Cuban. Several anchors on Fox News lamented the decision. Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends called the decision “anti-American.” Sean Duffy, a former U.S. congressman and cast member of “The Real World: Boston,” labeled Cuban a “globalist.”

In Texas, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick reacted by saying it was a “slap in the face.” He also called on Cuban to sell the team.

Cuban purchased a majority stake in the Mavericks in 2000. Before his purchase, the team underwent a dire stretch in the nineties, which included a season in which many sports analysts named the Mavericks the worst NBA team ever. Since Cuban has been the Mavericks owner, they have won an NBA championship and last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mavericks held the record for the longest sellout streak in the NBA.  

Patrick was not the only Texas Republican angry at Cuban. State Senator Drew Springer tweeted the following:

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass issued the following statement on Wednesday: “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.” On Monday, 1500 vaccinated frontline workers attended a Mavericks home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Cuban released a statement following the NBA’s decision. “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.”

Last year, Cuban got into a Twitter battle with Ted Cruz after the senator’s  assertion that basketball ratings were down because of the political stances of owners. Cuban took umbrage with that comment and took Cruz to task.

In the 2020 election, Cuban endorsed Joe Biden and campaigned virtually for the President. He has hinted that he might have political ambitions himself.

Lt. Gov. Patrick has stated one of his “priorities” is passing Senate Bill 4, which would require that any event that receives public funding in Texas must play the National Anthem. 

Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

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