Meyers Leonard will be "away" from the Miami Heat "indefinitely" after using an anti-Semitic slur during a video game livestream, the NBA team said in a statement Tuesday.
"The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech," the Heat said in a statement shared on Twitter Tuesday night.
"The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise," the statement continued. "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."
"Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely," the team said. "The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation."
Leonard — who has already missed most of the 2020-2021 season due to a shoulder injury — used the offensive language during a stream on Twitch this week in footage published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and widely shared on social media. In the video, Leonard uses a series of expletives, including an offensive term about Jewish people, when he encounters another player in his game of Call of Duty.
Mickey Arison, the Heat's owner, and his son, Nick, the team's CEO, are both Jewish, USA Today noted. In a comment to the New York Times earlier on Tuesday, the team and officials from the NBA said they were reviewing the video.
Leonard, 29, shared an apology on Instagram Tuesday, saying that he did not know the meaning of the slur he used, or that it was offensive to the Jewish community.
"I am deeply sorry for using the anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday/ 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 said. "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 not running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else," he continued. "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 I have hurt."
Leonard ended his apology saying he promised to "do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful that my use of this word."
Leonard — who is white — previously made headlines when he remained standing while his teammates kneeled in protest of police brutality and systemic racism during the 2020 NBA Finals.
In an interview with the Associated Press following his refusal to kneel, Leonard said he "absolutely" believed Black Lives Matter and he was a "compassionate human being."
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