Mark Cuban will support NBA players kneeling during national anthem: ‘Hopefully I’d join them’

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he hopes to join his players in kneeling during the national anthem before games this summer if that’s how they choose to protest police brutality and racial injustices.

During an interview Thursday on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Cuban discussed the NBA’s current rule, which requires all players and coaches to stand for the national anthem, and his hope the league and players association will be flexible in allowing players an opportunity to demonstrate when the NBA restarts the 2019-20 season in Orlando.

“Hopefully we’ll allow players to do what’s in their heart, whether it’s holding an arm up in the air, whether it’s taking a knee, whatever it is,” Cuban said. “I don’t think this is an issue of respect or disrespect to the flag or to the anthem or to the 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.

“I’ll defer to (NBA Commissioner) Adam (Silver) on any final judgements and (NBPA 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, after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for peacefully demonstrating during the national anthem, Cuban said he “always (puts) my hand over my heart and says a little prayer during the anthem, and I encourage my players to do the same.”

Cuban said Thursday his views have since evolved.

Cuban joined four Mavericks players — Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleber — at a vigil outside Dallas Police headquarters May 31 to honor the memory of George Floyd. The Mavericks also organized a “Courageous Conversations” event last week for employees and community leaders to discuss systemic racism.

Many expect NBA players to use the league’s restart as a platform to continue their push for equality and police reform.

“If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I’d be proud of them,” Cuban said. “Hopefully I’d join them because I think we’ve learned a lot since 2017. 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 you know, again, when our players and 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.”


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