Mark Cuban: My players can join national anthem protest

Mark Cuban: My players can join anthem protest
Mark Cuban: My players can join anthem protest

Mark Cuban told his players he's got their backs if they want to protest during the national anthem.

"This country was built on civil disobedience," the Dallas Mavericks owner told CNNMoney.

Cuban commended San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started protesting during the national anthem in August to raise awareness about racial issues affecting the country.

"[O]f all the ways you could protest, you could throw a bomb, you could shoot a gun, you could throw a punch, you could start a protest, you could try to start a riot, you could shoot somebody, he took a knee," Cuban said.

"And now he's started a huge conversation about what it means to be American, what it means to be proud to be an American, what it means to salute the flag, because he took a knee."

Unlike other major pro sports leagues in the U.S., the NBA has a rule requiring players to stand during the national anthem.

Related: NBA working with players to head off national anthem tensions

Cuban told CNNMoney he would stand during the anthem, but that he told his players they have the right to express themselves.

"Just make sure you understand what you're saying and make sure you're willing to stand up to it and make sure your teammates know so it's not a surprise to any of them."

He said his players were "thankful" that he'd had the conversation with them.

Cuban attributed his respect for the first amendment to his father, who had joined the U.S. Navy at age 16.

Cuban said his father was very clear about why his grandparents left Russia.

"Because if they said anything there was a chance they could be killed," Cuban said. "There was no freedom of speech. And he taught me very early on to respect all the amazing rights that we have here and to respect the opinion of others. But still stick to my core beliefs."

Related: Denver Broncos' Brandon Marshall gets dropped by sponsor for anthem protest

Cuban may be fine with his players protesting, but it's unclear what the NBA will do. The league did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The league and the players' union have been working with players to minimize potential tension before the NBA season begins in October.

Back in 1996, point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for refusing to stand.

But when the entire squad of the WNBA's Indiana Fever kneeled during the national anthem earlier in September, none of the players were suspended or fined, even though that league also requires players to stand for the anthem.

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