MIAMI: The Miami Heat said Tuesday night that Meyers Leonard will be out of the squad indefinitely, strongly criticizing his use of an anti-Semitic slur while playing a live-streamed video game.
Leonard apologized for using the term, insisting he didn’t know what it meant when he used it on Monday. The Heat learned of the matter on Tuesday and Leonard’s future with the team is now in serious doubt.
The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech, according to the team’s statement. The words Meyers Leonard used were wrong and we will not tolerate any hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise. Hearing it from a Miami Heat player is particularly disappointing and hurtful for everyone who works here, as well as for the large communities of South Florida, Miami Heat and the NBA.
The team also said they would cooperate with the NBA investigation.
Leonard admitted to using the term Monday in streaming. In his apology, posted on social media, he said my ignorance of his history and how offensive it was to the Jewish community was absolutely no excuse and I was simply wrong. “
Leonard also said he apologizes to team general manager Micky Arison and his family, players, coaches and the team’s front office, his family and the Jewish community, among others.
I admit and acknowledge my mistake and there’s no running away from something like this that’s so hurtful to someone else, Leonard wrote.
The video began circulating widely on social media Tuesday afternoon and the fallout was almost immediate, first with criticism online, then fierce reprimands from the league, the Heat and even other organizations.
Unacceptable. Totally unacceptable, said Washington coach Scott Brooks. Brooks added that he believes the NBA will do the right thing and fix it.
It seems quite possible. The NBA said it was gathering more information.
The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech, said league spokesman Mike Bass.
Leonard, a 7-foot cross in his ninth NBA season, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in January and has only appeared in three games for the Heat this year. He could become a free agent this summer; the Heat have a team option on him for next season worth around $ 10 million.
This is the second time in recent months that Leonard has been at the center of a controversy.
Most players and coaches chose to kneel down last summer to play the US and Canadian national anthems when the NBA season resumed in a bubble at Walt Disney World in central Florida. Leonard stood instead, his hand over his heart, and did so with the support of his Heat teammates.
I’m a compassionate human being and I really love everyone, Leonard told The Associated Press at the time.
He added in this AP interview last summer that I will continue to use my platform, voice and actions to show how much I care about African American culture and everyone. I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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