Cuban, Carlisle say they'll support Mavericks players either way on anthem protests

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle said they’ll support their players either way when it comes to a potential protest during the national anthem.

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors got in Trump’s crosshairs over the weekend when the president withdrew the team’s invitation to visit the White House. Members of the Warriors, including star Steph Curry, had voiced concerns over Trump and had planned to hold a vote to see if they would go. Trump has also been blasting the NFL for four days over players who peacefully protest during the national anthem.

“He has every right to voice his opinion,” Cuban said of Trump. “And now that he's voiced his opinion, as American citizens we all have the right to respond.”

The Mavericks have not had any players protest during the national anthem, which has mostly occurred before NFL games. But with the start of a new season less than a month away, talk of potential protests were on people’s minds at the Mavericks media day.

“We met with our players again today and told them that we support them 100 percent, whatever they decide to do,” Carlisle said. “My understanding is they're going to talk about it and they're going to decide as a team what the best course of action is, if there is a course of action, and go from there. I support my players.”

Mavericks start Dirk Nowitzki said he and his teammates would discuss Trump’s comments and any potential protest at some point during the week.

“There's a lot of new faces in the locker room. We're just going to hear everybody out. That's the great thing about America that everybody has freedom of speech and everybody has their opinion and can voice their opinion,” Nowitzki said. “There's really no decision made until everyone gets to talk with each other."

Cuban said he prefers to stand during the anthem, but he understands if his players will want to do something.

“I always put my hand over my heart and say a little prayer during the anthem and I encourage my players to do the same thing,” Cuban said.

But, he said his players “have the right to do what they see fit.”

Cuban also pushed back on people who say that athletes should “stick to sports” and not address the issues of the day.

“You can't say sports and politics shouldn't be connected when the Texas state legislature brings up the bathroom bill. That's about as intersected between sports and politics as you can get,” Cuban said.

The Mavericks season starts Wed. Oct. 18 at the American Airlines Center vs the Atlanta Hawks.