MIAMI – The Miami Heat announced that center Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely following his use of an anti-Semitic slur.
The NBA is investigating video that emerged online showing Leonard using the offensive term during the live stream of a video game.
The Heat released a statement Tuesday evening that read:
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemn 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.
“Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely. The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation.”
The Twitch stream was recorded during a game of Call of Duty, and Leonard can be heard using the slur and other profanity while trash-talking another gamer.
The NBA released a statement saying: “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.”
Warning: The video below contains offensive language
Meyers Leonard says racial slurs while playing CoD pic.twitter.com/WHwUnbV0pR— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) March 9, 2021
Leonard, 29, issued a statement Tuesday evening, apologizing for using the anti-Semitic slur.
It read, in part:
“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.”
The full statement can be read below:
Meyers Leonard apologizes via his Instagram for using an anti-Semitic word. Says he didn’t know what the word meant when he said it. pic.twitter.com/UkXRsi81po— Will Manso (@WillManso) March 10, 2021
Leonard had tweeted Monday night about his “passion” for streaming video game play on Twitch.
“My passion away from the basketball floor!!!” he wrote. “I’ve been incredibly blessed to grow my community and give them a place to come have a good time and meet great people!”
Leonard hasn’t played an NBA game since January and is out for the season because of a shoulder injury. He’s on a one-year $9.4 million contract with the Heat, who have a team option if they wish to keep him next season.
The 7-footer only appeared in three games for the Heat this season, averaging 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Leonard, whose brother served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marines, was the only Heat player not to kneel for the national anthem when the team returned to play in the Orlando bubble last summer, saying afterward that he can be both a patriot and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I think I can be a beacon of light ... not only for my voice or platform and action, but in everything I’m doing,” Leonard, who is white, told ESPN. “I certainly support Black Lives Matter. ... I am very aware of what is going on. But I can be both. My patriotism runs deep.”