Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says if his players take a knee during the national anthem, he hopes to join them.
In an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Thursday, Cuban was asked how he would react if he saw his players not standing for the anthem.
“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them. Hopefully I’d join them,” Cuban said.
NBA rules state that players and coaches must stand for the national anthem, but Cuban said he hopes the league can adapt and “allow players to do what’s in their heart.”
“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,” Cuban said. “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.
“I’ll defer to [commissioner] Adam [Silver] on any final judgments and [players’ union executive director] Michele Roberts. But the reality is, my hope is we’ll let the players do exactly what they think is the right thing to do.”
In 2017, Cuban voiced a different opinion after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who were kneeling during the anthem to promote social justice.
“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.”
Three years later, as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Cuban explained what has changed his mindset.
“Because I think we’ve learned a lot since 2017,” he told OTL. “I think we’ve evolved as a country. And this is really a unique point in time where we can grow as a society, we can grow as a country and become far more inclusive and become far more aware of the challenges that minority communities go through.
“So I’ll stand in unison with our players, whatever they choose to do. But again, when our players in the NBA do what’s in their heart, when they do what they feel represents who they are and look to move this country forward when it comes to race relationships, I think that’s a beautiful thing and I’ll be proud of them.”