Heat center away from team after anti-Semitic slur while streaming

By LEIGHTON SCHNEIDER, ABC NEWS

(MIAMI) — The Miami Heat have announced center Meyers Leonard will be away from the team indefinitely after Leonard used an anti-Semitic slur while streaming a video game he was playing on Twitch. 

“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 team said in a statement. 

Leonard apologized later in a post on Instragram.

“I am deeply sorry for using an 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. 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,” Leonard wrote. 

ASTRO Gaming, a gaming headset maker, announced on Facebook they are no longer going to sponsor Leonard. 

“We are aware of comments made by sponsored streamer, Meyers Leonard. ASTRO is committed to creating an inclusive gaming environment and one that combats racism and other forms of discrimination, retaliation, and harassment. For that reason, we are ending our relationship with Meyers Leonard, effective immediately,” the post said. 

Leonard is in his 9th season in the NBA and his second with the Heat. He sustained a season ending shoulder injury in January and only appeared in three games this season. He can become a free agent this summer if Miami does not pick up his option for next season. 

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