Dallas Mavericks will no longer play the national anthem before games
They are the first NBA franchise to ditch the anthem
The Dallas Mavericks will not play the American national anthem before home games moving forward.
The franchise has not played The Star-Spangled Banner before any of their most recent 13 games across pre-season and regular season, and have no intention of bringing it back, their owner Mark Cuban confirmed to ESPN.
Cuban made the decision after consulting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, ESPN are reporting.
The change in policy regarding the anthem was not officially announced and, according to reports, none of the Mavericks' players or staff have mentioned it since the anthem was dropped from their pre-game protocol.
The NBA's official rulebook states that players have to stand for the national anthem. But the rule has not been enforced by Silver in the context of players kneeling to protest social injustice and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Back in December, Silver said: "I recognise that this is a very emotional issue on both sides of the equation in America right now, and I think it calls for real engagement rather than rule enforcement."
Mavericks owner Cuban told ESPN back in June: "If they were taking a knee and they were being respectful, I'd be proud of them. Hopefully I'd join them."
"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 [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."
The Mavericks' decision to ditch the national anthem completely takes it one step further though, and while every team has been open in their support of the Black Lives Matter movement, it remains to be seen how many teams will follow suit.