Mark Cuban — the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and star of ABC’s hit reality TV series Shark Tank — has publicly stated a desire to kneel alongside his players during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of racial injustice and police brutality. The 61-year-old made the proclamation during an interview with Jeremy Schaap on ESPN’s Outside The Lines on Thursday.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” Cuban said after Schaap asked him how he would react in the event that Mavericks players chose not to stand for the pre-game recitation of the American national anthem.
As it stands, the NBA has a rule pertaining to the national anthem which explicitly states that players and coaches must stand as it is being played. And while Cuban said he would defer to the judgement of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Players Association President Michele Roberts on the issue, it is Cuban’s hope that the league will relax the rule in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests happening around the world.
“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. 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.”
Cuban’s current stance on athletes kneeling during the national anthem in protest of inequality seemingly differs from remarks he made in 2017 following President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players — namely, Colin Kaepernick — kneeling. “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.”
As reported by The Inquisitr, Cuban indicated more recently that he and other white people “are the ones who need to change.” In a series of tweets, the Mavericks owner spoke about a need to understand the plight that people of color face in our society every day. He further spoke about respecting the differences between ethnic groups and learning from those differences.
According to The Dallas Morning News, he also attended a vigil outside Dallas Police headquarters to honor the memory of George Floyd, the black man who died at the hands of a white Minneapolis Police Department officer and inspired the ongoing protests.
Cuban’s Mavericks team is slated to be a part of the NBA’s 22-team restart in Orlando, Florida, which is currently scheduled to begin on July 30.