Somehow it escaped most everyone’s attention for 13 home games that the Dallas Mavericks weren’t playing the national anthem before any of them, which pretty much tells you how important the tradition actually was in the first place. The Mavs hadn’t been allowing fans into the arena until Monday’s game, so there wasn’t really much point in playing it anyway. And seeing as how no one really noticed, Cuban has decided to eschew the practice altogether.
The initial fear, and really the only one, is that scrapping the anthem from before games is an easy out. To avoid the controversy of players kneeling or not, fans’ reaction to it or non-reactions to it, is to simply remove the point of conflict. And maybe that’s to be considered, as Rob Parker wrote back in June. But there are plenty of other ways, and plenty of more meaningful ones, to protest and get your message out.
The anthem before every game has always felt jingoistic and overdone. We’re the only country that does it. You’ll see it before big events, like Cup finals in soccer in other countries or games that involve actual national teams. And there it makes sense, either as celebration or a symbol of the actual participants.
But before every game? Why? They don’t play it before movies, or plays, or concerts. Those are all public gatherings. There are times when it serves a purpose, and perhaps on the 4th of July and some other days, as well as the beginning of championship series or games, it could be played, but other than that, what would we really be losing? We shouldn’t have to stand and wait around for two minutes to prove love of country. And if you do, then the relationship with country is probably pretty fractured. Both individual and nation will survive without it.
The fact that it took six weeks before anyone noticed in Dallas pretty much tells you that. This country has always confused shouting “patriotism” with actual patriotism. The playing of the anthem before every game was and is just a show, essentially an empty gesture now. We can move on and find other ways to define who we are.
On the actual floor last night, the hottest team on the planet continued their supernova act as the Utah Jazz got their 16th win in 17 games with a 122-108 win over the Celtics.
The Jazz do what they do, going Smash TV in their shooting without a conscience from beyond the arc, hurling up 48 attempts and making 18, which is below their usual average of 41%. Donovan Mitchell went for 36 while Joe Ingles chipped in 24. The Jazz opened it up in the third when they dropped 42 points, and though the C’s got within six at one point in the fourth, the gap was just a little too much, especially on a night when Jayson Tatum was something of a wayward 7-for-20 from the field.
The win kept the Jazz atop the West standings, and they did it without Mike Conley (though the Celtics were without Marcus Smart), They’ll see the Bucks, Sixers, Clippers (twice), and Lakers in the next seven. They’ll be the show to watch over the next little while.
The real winner though, was Mike Conley’s look on the sidelines.
I once joked to an ex who complained about my habit of wearing hoodies all the time that if it came to it, and the occasion called for it, I could produce a dress hoodie. I didn’t think there actually would be one. That thing can go from the club to a pajama party to a red carpet to the gym. Simply in awe.
More shenanigans from the NBA, as here’s Jimmy Butler going the full Rivaldo 2002: