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Haslem, Spoelstra, Iguodala address Meyers Leonard’s anti-Semitic comments

Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat warms up before the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat warms up before the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. (2021 Getty Images)

MIAMI – While Meyers Leonard is currently not allowed to be with his Heat teammates following Anti-Semitic remarks he made during a video game stream, the Heat were left to answer for Leonard.

Miami completed their first practice since the All-Star break on Wednesday at American Airlines Arena.

Udonis Haslem, Erik Spoelstra, and Andre Iguodala spoke to reporters.

“It’s unfortunately with social media these days, things spread like wildfire,” Haslem said. “It’s unfortunate. We can’t tolerate that here. Right is right and wrong and wrong... We’re going to try to be on the right side of everything, especially issues like this.”

Haslem indicated he had never heard Leonard use language that made him uncomfortable prior to the incident.

“I was very surprised,” Haslem said. “At this stage of the game, we have to be accountable for our actions. That will not be tolerated.”

The veteran forward added, “What he said is wrong. Right is right and wrong is wrong. You have to be accountable.”

Haslem also apologized on behalf of the Heat.

“From the bottom of my heart and this organization, we apologize,” he said. “That won’t be tolerated here. We’re going to be on the right side of this moving forward. I felt it. I have a lot of Jewish friends, they call me Udonis Haslem-berg sometimes. I have a lot of Jewish friends. So I felt it. And I reached out to a lot of them just to make sure that they’re okay.”

Added Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: “I’m disappointed that those words were extremely hurtful. We don’t condone that. There’s so much more that needs to be done in terms of education. What’s right versus what’s wrong. We know Meyers. He’s been a really good teammate, good human being. He said something that’s extremely distasteful and hurtful. We’re left with the aftermath of that. We don’t condone that obviously. It was a disappointment. We had some conversations as a team. I’ve spoke to Meyers and he feels really bad about it. It doesn’t matter the intent, it’s just not right.”

Spoelstra said he told Leonard that he can’t brush the incident under the rug and “there are consequences to words and those were extremely hurtful words.”

Iguodala, a 17-year NBA veteran, had a message very similar to Haslem’s.

“I think people have to be held accountable for their actions,” Iguodala said. “You have to understand your own actions. You have to man up and realize it’s not right. It’s up to him to right his wrongs, and not leave it up to right his wrongs.”

Iguodala said it’s not up to the team to figure out if they’d welcome him back, it’s up to Leonard.

“It’s not up to whatever he says to us, only deep down inside does he know if he’s a better person, to move forward,” Iguodala said.


About the Author:

David Lang is executive producer of the Local 10 sports department.