The Miami Heat is distancing itself from problematic player Meyers Leonard.
In a statement on Tuesday, the NBA team said the 29-year-old will be “away from the team indefinitely” after he used an anti-Semitic slur during a video game livestream. The statement read:
“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… Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely. The Miami Heat will cooperate with the NBA while it conducts its investigation.”
The decision came days after Leonard got heat for using the offensive term during a stream on Twitch in footage published by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In the now-viral footage, Leonard encounters another player in his game of Call of Duty and uses a series of expletives, including an offensive term about Jewish people.
The Virginia native shared an apology on his Instagram on Tuesday, claiming that he didn’t know the meaning of the slur or that it was offensive to Jewish people. He wrote:
“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. 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.”
The athlete went on to apologize to Mickey Arison, the Heat’s owner, and his son, Nick, the team’s CEO, who are Jewish, sharing:
“I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s not 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 I have hurt.”
Leonard concluded his note by promising to “do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful that my use of this word.”
The star player — who is white — made headlines during the 2020 NBA Finals when he stayed standing while his teammates kneeled in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. He later told the Associated Press that he “absolutely” believed that Black Lives Matter and he was a “compassionate human being.”
But it appears this time, his apology was too little, too late.
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