Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard acknowledged uttering an anti-Semitic slur while streaming his video-game play on Monday night, issuing an apology on Tuesday that said he was unaware of “how offensive it is to the Jewish community.”
On the video, Leonard can be heard saying, “F—— cowards, don’t f—— snipe at me you f—— k— b—-.”
The anti-Semitic slur was uttered in the middle of the two profanities amid video-game play of Call of Duty, a war-simulation video game.
A team spokesman said the Heat are aware of the language used by Leonard.
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.”
Leonard issued a statement on Instagram several hours after his comments came to light.
“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” the statement issued Tuesday evening opened. “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. I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. This is not a proper representation of who I am.”
He then went on to apologize to the Arison family, which owns the team, as well as to teammates, coaches, those associated with the Heat, his family, fans, “and others in the Jewish community who I have hurt.”
His statement ended with, “I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.”
Earlier, the Anti-Defamation League posted on Twitter, “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.”
Origin PC, a gaming company, announced on Twitter it was severing its relationship with Leonard, posting: “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 we look into it further.”
Leonard is currently recovering from January shoulder surgery and is out for the season. He signed a two-year, $19.5 million contract in November to return to the team as a free agent, recently purchasing a home in Miami. The Heat hold a team option for next season’s salary.
Leonard was the lone Heat player to stand during the playing of the national anthem during the NBA’s resumption of last season in the quarantine bubble at Disney World. He said it was out of respect for family in the military, while also noting his abiding respect for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Leonard last summer stressed that he wanted to take a proactive stance with social matters.
“I truly know that I will continue to make an impact with my platform, my voice and with my resources,” he said. “I have no shame in saying that Elle and I, my wife, we donated $100,000 to the City of Miami, to Liberty City and Overtown, because they were slammed by voter suppression and COVID. And I have felt connected to this city immediately, and that was something that we felt we could do to help a place that clearly needed it.”