Meyers Leonard was the only Miami Heat player to stand during the national anthem during the NBA Finals last year

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 09, 2021 08:30 PM
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Meyers Leonard
Credit: Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard was recorded using an anti-Semitic slur while hosting a video game stream this week.

The video — which was republished by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and widely shared on social media — shows the 29-year-old center playing Call of Duty, a popular multiplayer shooting game, over the streaming service, Twitch.

When Leonard encounters another player, he uses a series of expletives, including an offensive term about Jewish people.

"F—ing cowards, don't f—ing snipe at me you f—ing k— bitches," Leonard was recorded saying in a video, reportedly recorded Monday.

In a clip from a different Call of Duty stream following Leonard's use of the slur, the NBA player is seen speaking with someone on the phone before he tells his teammate he has to sign off.

"Yo, my wife needs me, she just called me," he said. "I'll, uh — I gotta roll, brother."

Mickey Arison, the Heat's owner, and his son, Nick, the team's CEO, are both Jewish, USA Today noted. Neither the team nor Leornard immediately responded to PEOPLE's request for comment. In a comment to the New York Times, the team and officials from the NBA said they were reviewing the video.

The Anti-Defamation League spoke out against Leonard's actions following the incident.

"We are shocked and disappointed to see @MeyersLeonard use this ugly, offensive #antisemitic slur," they wrote in a statement. "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."

On Tuesday night, Leonard posted an apology to his Instagram page saying, in part, that he did not know the meaning of the slur 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," Leonard wrote. "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 ore powerful that my use of this word."

Meyers Leonard
Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Leonard — who is white — previously made headlines when he remained standing when 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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"I will continue to use my platform, my voice and my actions to show how much I care about the African American culture and for everyone," he said. "I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way."

He's so far missed most of the 2020-2021 season and is expected not to see playing time until next year after undergoing shoulder surgery.