Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban declared that the "National Anthem Police in this country are out of control," leading to a tense exchange on Twitter with Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican who represents Texas.
Cuban tweeted "Bye" on Sunday in response to a tweet from Mark Davis in which the Dallas-based conservative talk show host expressed enthusiasm about the Mavs but added that he would no longer be a fan "the minute one player kneels for the anthem." Davis also suggested that Cuban could help guide the Mavs and the NBA "to do whatever gesture they wish without insulting the nation."
Cuban elaborated on his thoughts in another tweet.
The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don't play the National Anthem every day before you start work. https://t.co/NUwv7asO44— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) July 20, 2020
"The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control," he tweeted. "If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don't play the National Anthem every day before you start work."
As he has in the past, President Donald Trump chimed in on the subject Tuesday morning on Twitter.
Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2020
"Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!"
Cruz, who became a staunch supporter of President Trump after finishing as the runner-up for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2016 election, expressed outrage in a tweet Monday morning.
Really??!?— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 20, 2020
NBA is telling everyone who stands for the flag, who honors our cops and our veterans, to "piss off"? In Texas, no less?
Good luck with that. pic.twitter.com/AVWLMZIqu0
"Really??!?" Cruz tweeted. "NBA is telling everyone who stands for the flag, who honors our cops and our veterans, to 'piss off'? In Texas, no less? Good luck with that."
Cuban responded: "Have some balls for once @tedcruz. Speak to me. It's my tweet."
Cruz responded to Cuban by asking his thoughts on the NBA's relationship with China and took a dig at Cuban by asking if his players could use "Free Hong Kong" on their jerseys.
Cuban responded: "I can say Black Lives Matter. I can say there is systemic racism in this country. I can say there is a Pandemic that you have done little to end. I can say I care about this country first and last and.."
Cuban has voiced his support recently for the Black Lives Matter movement and made it clear that he will have no issue if Mavericks players choose to protest by kneeling during the national 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 during a June 18 appearance on ESPN's Outside the Lines.
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 Trump criticized NFL players who kneeled during the anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality.
"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."