White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she hadn’t spoken to President Joe Biden about the Dallas Mavericks’ decision to ditch the national anthem, but believes he supports this kind of protest at sporting events.
A reporter asked the White House spokeswoman Wednesday about the president’s opinion on Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who recently came under fire after he confirmed to The Athletic that he dropped the tradition of playing Star-Spangled Banner ahead of the NBA team’s home games. The decision was made because “many” felt the anthem “doesn’t represent them,” The Athletic reported, citing a source close to the billionaire.
“I haven’t spoken with the president about the decision by Mark Cuban or the Dallas Mavericks,” Psaki told the reporter. “I know he’s incredibly proud to be an American, and has great respect for the anthem, and all that represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform around the world.”
“He’d also say of course that part of the pride in our country means recognizing those moments where we as a country haven’t lived up to our highest ideals,” she continued. “Which is often and at times what people are speaking to when they take action at sporting events. It means respecting the right people granted to them in the Constitution to peacefully protest.”
Cuban, who has been a vocal supporter of NBA players’ decisions to kneel during or skip the anthem, faced push back from the league and those he dismissed as “national anthem police.” In a statement on Wednesday, NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said every team, including the Mavericks, must play the national anthem in their arenas.
“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 statement reads.
Not long after the NBA issued its stance, Cuban walked back his decision, saying he and his team “respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and the country.”
The NBA also has long had a rule requiring players and coaches to stand for the anthem. Following the widespread protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, however, the NBA relaxed the rule and kneeling players became commonplace. The league also allowed players to have certain social justice-themed messages on the backs of their jerseys, but the league removed fans carrying “Free Hong Kong” signs from games in an effort to save their business in China.