Mavericks owner angers Texas lawmakers with national anthem policy

Dallas, Texas – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s decision to not play the national anthem drew sharp backlash Wednesday from Texas lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is pushing to require that the Star-Spangled Banner be played at all publicly funded events.

Dan Patrick has served as lieutenant governor of Texas since January 2015.
Dan Patrick has served as lieutenant governor of Texas since January 2015.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

"Your decision to cancel our National Anthem at games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas," Patrick wrote on Twitter. "Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave."

The Mavs haven't played the anthem at the start of any of their 13 preseason and regular-season games. The decision went unnoticed until reported by The Athletic on Tuesday night. A spokesperson for the team said on Wednesday that the the Star-Spangled Banner will be played going forward, and the NBA said it would be played before all games.

Still, Patrick announced the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act as one of his legislative priorities. Patrick’s office said the measure is meant to is ensure the national anthem is played at all events that receive public funding. Patrick said the measure has "broad support" and that "the Star Spangled Banner will not be threatened in the Lone Star State again."

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"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.

He continued, "In this time when so many things divide us, sports are one thing that bring us together – right, left, black, white and brown."

Drew Springer joined Patrick in condemning Cuban's decision

Dallas Mavericks players stand for the national anthem before a game (archive image).
Dallas Mavericks players stand for the national anthem before a game (archive image).  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

In an interview with talk radio host Mark Davis, Patrick called Cuban’s decision "even more divisive" than the riots at the US Capitol.

"This … to me is just as egregious in its own way as those who took to the streets last summer to try and tear down America, to those that took on our Capitol and tried to tear down our Capitol and attack the police," Patrick said.

"They didn’t stand for the 75 million Trump supporters that I know. This is egregious in its own right, because as divisive as those two acts were, this is even more divisive."

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A Mavericks spokesperson declined to comment when asked for Cuban's take on the lieutenant governor’s radio show comments.

North Texas Senator Drew Springer took issue with the move and said related legislation could be coming.

"It's time that Cuban's special Texas tax breaks comes to an end," Springer said on Twitter. "No one in gets special treatment, why should he? We can use it to lower property taxes. Be watching bills today."

The bill, which Springer said was in the process of being filed late Wednesday afternoon, relates to franchise tax deductions for professional sports teams. Springer said he would support a measure requiring the national anthem be played before professional sporting events if the team receive public dollars.

He and Patrick were among a handful of Texas elected officials to weigh in on the Mavericks not playing the anthem.

Mark Cuban defended his decision not to play the anthem

Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has been the owner of the Dallas Mavericks since January 2000.
Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban has been the owner of the Dallas Mavericks since January 2000.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Patrick cheered the NBA's announcement that the national anthem would be played in all arenas. He thanked the NBA for "slapping down (Cuban's) crazy idea to cancel the National Anthem."

"Fans of all stripes, liberal and conservative, black, white, brown all love this country and they stand for the Stars and Stripes!" Patrick said on Twitter.

Asked about the elected officials' remarks on Twitter, Mavericks spokesperson Scott Tomlin pointed to a Wednesday statement from Cuban.

"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."

The Texas Rangers, meanwhile, said Wednesday they will continue to play the anthem this season at Globe Life Field.

"We strongly support playing the national anthem before Rangers home games. It is an important tradition that we will continue to honor at Globe Life Field," Rangers chairman and managing partner Ray Davis said.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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