Texas Official Announces Legislation to ‘Protect’ National Anthem in Wake of NBA Controversy

February 11, 2021 Updated: February 11, 2021

A top Texas official on Wednesday said he would push for state legislators to pass a bill that would require events receiving public funding to play the national anthem.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican who also serves as president of the state Senate, announced the effort after one of the state’s professional basketball teams revealed it stopped playing the anthem before games, breaking with an American tradition.

The act is known as the Star-Spangled Protection Act, or Senate Bill 4.

“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.

“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.”

Republicans hold a 5 vote majority in the upper chamber and a 16 seat majority in the lower chamber.

Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, ordered the team before the season not to play the national anthem before games. Because fans haven’t been attending games amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the move went unnoticed until this week.

mark cuban
Mark Cuban attends the 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif., on June 24, 2019. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

The league weighed in on Wednesday, ordering the Mavericks and other teams to abide by league policy that requires playing the anthem before tipoff.

“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,” the NBA’s chief communications officer, Mike Bass, said in a statement.

Cuban said in a statement that he hoped people passionate about the anthem “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,” adding: “Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.”

Mavericks players and coaches told a team reporter that they supported Cuban amid the controversy.

“One thing I’ll say about Mark is he’s not scared of what’s being talked about,” center Willie Cauley-Stein said. “And he’s not scared of doing what’s right. He’s got a very diverse team and for us as players, when your owner is behind you like that, that’s big.

“Mark’s an owner who is very involved, to say the least. For him to have his voice and use it the way he does, no matter what the situation, it shows what type of person he is,” added guard Jalen Brunson.

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