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NBA’s Meyers Leonard suspended by Miami Heat over anti-Semitic slur

Team says it won’t ‘tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise,’ after player apologized for using term

Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat warms up before a game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2021, in Washington. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images North America/AFP)
Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat warms up before a game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 9, 2021, in Washington. (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images North America/AFP)

MIAMIA — Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard has been placed on indefinite leave by the club after using an anti-Semitic slur while streaming his video-game play.

The team said the 29-year-old would “be away from the team indefinitely” after footage of the incident on Monday emerged.

“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,” the club said in a statement. “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.”

Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard cheers on the team from the sideline during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Boston Celtics on September 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Leonard, who has played only three games for Miami this season and is expected to miss the remainder of the campaign after undergoing shoulder surgery, issued an apology for his remarks.

“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” Leonard said in a statement on Instagram.

“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.

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

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