Meyers Leonard will be away from the Miami Heat indefinitely, the NBA said in a statement, after the center used an anti-Semitic slur on Twitch.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,’’ the team said on Tuesday (March 9). “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.’’
The NBA has launched an investigation into the controversy and said it was “in the process of gathering more information” on Tuesday evening.
“The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech,” league spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement.
The issue stems from a now-viral video of Leonard playing “Call of Duty,” which went viral yesterday. In a snippet of his Twitch live stream, the NBA player spewed an anti-Semitic slur.
“Fucking cowards. Don’t fucking snipe me! You fucking kike bitch,” he said on the platform, where he has over 69,000 followers.
Leonard was condemned for the hate speech by many on social media. On Wednesday (March 10), Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots penned an open letter to Leonard about his use of the slur.
“I’m sure you’ve been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective,” the wide receiver, who is Jewish, wrote.
“I get the sense that you didn’t use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance. Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That’s what makes it so destructive.”
“When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance,” he continued. “Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.”
Leonard apologized for using the slur in an Instagram post on Tuesday night. “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,” he wrote.
“This is not a proper representation of who I am and I want to apologize to the Arisons, my teammates, coaches, front office and everyone associated with the Miami Heat organization, to my family, to our loyal fans and to others in the Jewish community who I have hurt,” he added. “I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.”
Gaming companies ASTRO Gaming, Origin PC and Scuf Gaming have since dissolved their partnerships with the athlete.