Miami Center Meyers Leonard Getting Heat For Antisemitic Slur — What Did He Say?

Photo: YouTube
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard

In a video that surfaced on Tuesday, March 9, Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard was heard saying an antisemitic slur while live-streaming to thousands of viewers.

The more than 7-foot tall 29-year-old was playing the popular video game Call of Duty: Warzone while live-streaming on Twitch, a platform popular among video game enthusiasts who tune in to watch their favorite streamers playing their favorite games.

Following the backlash he received, Leonard issued an apology, saying he was not aware of the words history and meaning,

What did Meyers Leonard say?

The anti-Semitic slur came between two profanities towards an opposing player in the video game.

During his live-stream, Leonard could be heard saying, “F------ cowards, don’t f------ snipe at me you f------ k--- b----.”

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Following the release of the video, Leonard offered a public apology for his comments on Instagram.

“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a live stream yesterday,” Leonard said. “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 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.

"I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word."

Commenting on the post was disabled.

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The Miami Heat organization released a statement of their in response, indicating Leonard is being suspended from the team "indefinitely" while the NBA conducts an investigation into the matter.

“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns 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.”

Speaking on behalf of the NBA, spokesman Mike Bass 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.”

New England Patriots' wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, released an open letter to Leonard on Twitter, inviting the NBA player to join him for Shabbat dinner in Miami.

"I get the sense that you didn't use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance," Edelman wrote. "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. 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."

"I'm down in Miami fairly often. Let's do a Shabbat dinner with some friends," the NFL star concluded. "I'll show you a fun time."

The 34-year-old has combated anti-semitic comments like these in the past. Last year, he invited then-Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, to join him for a tour of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. after Jackson shared antisemitic posts on social media.

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Leonard made headlines just months ago when he was the only Miami Heat player to remain standing during the singing of the national anthem as his teammates and coaches all took a knee in silent protest on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the time, he said it was out of respect for members of his family who were in the military, while also sharing his hopes of playing a bigger role in addressing 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.”

What happens now?

According to the NBA's constitution and by-Laws, a statement of this kind could result in a fine of up $50,000, with suspension also allowed.

Although Leonard has the right to appeal any sanctions, it seems unlikely he would, as he has already issued an apology acknowledging his statements.

Though the Miami Heat player may have been genuinely unaware of the word's meaning, ignorance is no excuse for uttering hateful slurs against any group.

Ignorance breeds hate, after all, and that is something none of us need any more of these days.

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Tomás Diniz Santos is a writer living in Orlando, Florida. He covers news, entertainment, and pop-culture topics.