Center Meyers Leonard will stay away from the Miami Heat indefinitely as the team and the NBA investigate his use of an anti-Semitic slur during a video-game livestream on Tuesday.
Leonard issued a public apology as the Heat and the NBA both condemned his earlier comments.
Video clips circulated on social media showed Leonard uttering an offensive term while streaming a game of Call of Duty on Twitch.
Leonard wrote on Instagram, “I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday.
“While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong. I am now more aware of its meaning and I am committed to properly seeking out people who can help educate me about this type of hate and how we can fight it.
“I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. … I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.”
The Heat wrote in a statement, “The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech. The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise. To hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing and hurtful to all those who work here, as well as the larger South Florida, Miami Heat and NBA communities.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement, “We just became aware of the video and are in the process of gathering more information. The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech.”
An avid gamer, Leonard had about 58,000 followers on Twitch as of Tuesday afternoon. The nine-year NBA veteran announced his investment in the esports organization FaZe Clan in 2019.
FaZe Clan posted Tuesday on Twitter, “We were incredibly disappointed to hear Meyers’ stream today. FaZe does not tolerate hate speech or discriminatory language of any kind. While Meyers is not a member of FaZe, we are cutting ties with him.
“This community has so much growing to do. Let’s be better together.”
Leonard, 29, had surgery on his left shoulder last month and is expected to miss the rest of the season. He has not played since Jan. 9 and appeared in only three games this season, averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds.
The 7-footer (213 cm) has averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 boards in 447 career games (93 starts) with the Portland Trail Blazers (2012-19) and Heat (2019-21).
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