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Mac Engel: NBA passes on Mark Cuban’s desire to discuss issues surrounding national anthem

Fort Worth Star-Telegram logoFort Worth Star-Telegram 2/11/2021 Mac Engel, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
a person sitting in a chair talking on the phone: Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, watches his team play the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 27, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. © John McCoy/Getty Images North America/TNS Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, watches his team play the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 27, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Mark Cuban’s experiment lasted more than one month, but the NBA has politely asked him to wrap it up now that he had his fun, and obtained the results.

At Cuban’s decision, the Mavs became the first major North American sports team to skip a tradition that started nearly 100 years ago.

We were so collectively outraged, and the media that covered the 13 home games thus far so observant (guilty as charged), that this crisis lasted for about 55 days before anyone noticed.

Hours after The Athletic’s report of the Mavs not playing the national anthem this season, which included a confirmation by Cuban, America cranked up its moral outrage and the NBA issued a cherry, vanilla and blueberry flavored lollipop.

Before you express more anger over this, swallow the reality that you cared so much you didn’t even notice it.

“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 said in a statement on Wednesday.

Cuban issued the following statement on Twitter: “We respect and always have respected the passion people have for the anthem and our country. But we also loudly hear the voices of those who feel that the anthem does not represent them. We feel that their voices need to be respected and heard, because they have not been.”

Not sure this is going to land Cuban an invite to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s house any time soon.

“Going forward,: the statement continued, “our hope is that people 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. Only then we can move forward and have courageous conversations that move this country forward and find what unites us.

The Mavs planned to play the anthem for their Wednesday home game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Noble intentions, but if the last however many years are any indication, people want to be told they are right more than they desire a courageous conversation.

Predictably, when Cuban’s latest headline stunt went viral, the Patriot Police mounted up, grabbed their cell phones and let him know that not only is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks a bad American, but they will never watch the NBA again.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Limbaugh-Patrick took to Twitter to wield some of his Texas justice.

Patrick Tweeted: “@mcuban your decision to cancel our National Anthem at @dallasmavs games is a slap in the face to every American & an embarrassment to Texas.”

Dan Patrick issuing statements about embarrassments to Texas is a Grande cup of Irony on a cold winter’s day.

“Sell the franchise & some Texas Patriots will buy it. We ARE the land of free & the home of the brave,” Patrick’s Tweet ended.

(It should be noted that, like Cuban, Dan Patrick never served in the military. He did, however, once own a sports bar, which is stupidly brave.)

American Airlines, who holds the naming right to the arena, passed on commenting. Most every Mavs corporate sponsor wanted no part of this.

Rather than fight it, the NBA is effectively saying, Forget it. It’s not worth it.

Ultimately, the national anthem is two minutes out of our lives before a ballgame, but the NBA did skip the opportunity to have a discussion about why this tradition started, and why we should, or should not, follow the status quo.

The vast majority of us simply don’t want to listen, or watch, anything that challenges what we want to believe. Because, God forbid, any of us are ever wrong.

There is a middle ground, but unless we stop to hear the other, the middle ground looks like No Man’s Land.

You remember No Man’s Land, it was the giant swath of space between two warring enemies, made tragically famous during WWI, the same time the tradition of playing the national anthem before ballgames began.

Mark Cuban made his point about the national anthem, and the NBA decided while his intentions may be noble it’s easier to hand out red, white and blue lollipops.

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