Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said kneeling during the national anthem wouldn’t have kept Colin Kaepernick off an NBA roster. That was a questionable claim that nobody tested. No NBA players emulated Kaepernick’s controversial demonstration (which protested racism, particularly through police brutality).
But Cuban is now even more directly supporting players – particularly on Dallas – if they kneel during 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.
If the NBA really considers it a central goal to address systematic racism, eliminating its anthem rule would be a good step (though only a step before more meaningful action).
Always eager to challenge the league’s power structure, Cuban probably wouldn’t wait for approval (though because of coronavirus concerns limiting bubble entrants, he might not be at Disney World).
It’s hard to see the league punishing anyone for kneeling. The tide has turned.
Once hailed for his stance, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faced widespread backlash – including from LeBron James – for implicit criticism of Kaepernick’s method without even acknowledging the underlying point (protesting racism, particularly through police brutality). Even President Donald Trump has shifted his tone on Kaepernick. Beyond anthem demonstrations in particular, discussion of racism is far more encouraged than just a few years ago.
That’s progress, and Cuban has helped propel it.
Really, we’ve reached the point that kneeling during the anthem has diminishing returns. Because it’s less controversial than a few years ago, it holds less power to alert people to the problems of systematic racism. But it can still be effective.
It’s one of many ways NBA people – including Cuban – could use their platforms and resources to affect change.