Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard uses anti-Semitic slur during video game stream

The NBA is investigating a video of injured forward-center Meyers Leonard using an anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game on Monday.

Leonard is seen playing the “Call of Duty” game and is recorded using the slur while engaged with another gamer on Twitch, where Meyers often plays.

Leonard, who will remain away from the team indefinitely, apologized in a post on Instagram.

“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” Leonard wrote. “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.”

The Heat also released a strongly worded statement.

“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,” the team said. “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.

“Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely. The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation.”

Heat owner Mickey Arison, and son, Nick, who is the Heat CEO, are Jewish.

“We are shocked and disappointed to see @MeyersLeonard use this ugly, offensive #antisemitic slur. We have reached out to the @MiamiHEAT and @NBA about this and urge Mr. Leonard to issue an apology immediately for this egregious and hateful rhetoric,” the Anti-Defamation League posted on Twitter.

Miami’s Meyers Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur during a Twitch live stream.
Miami’s Meyers Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur during a Twitch live stream. (Photo: The Associated Press)
An NBA spokesman issued a statement Wednesday that said, “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.”

The NBA has issued fines for offensive and derogatory language, including a $100,000 fine for Kobe Bryant after he used a homophobic slur directed at a referee in 2011.

Origin PC reached a partnership deal with Leonard in May, but on Tuesday released a statement saying, “A comment was recently made by Meyers Leonard that does not reflect the values or views of Origin PC. We have decided to cease our working relationship with Meyers as of 3/9/2021.”

Astro Gaming also ended its relationship with Leonard.

Leonard, whose brother Bailey served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines, was the only Heat player who stood for the national anthem during games in the Orlando bubble. But he wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and said he believes in the Black lives Matter movement.

Leonard is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in February. He played in just three game in 2020-21. He signed a two-year, $19.5 million deal with Miami before the season with $9.4 million guaranteed. The Heat have an option to pick up the final year of the deal.


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