Meyers Leonard was fined $50,000 and suspended from all Miami Heat team facilities and activities for one week after using an anti-Semitic remark, the NBA announced Wednesday. A video surfaced on Tuesday of Leonard playing "Call of Duty" and using the slur while talking to another player.
"Meyers Leonard's comment was inexcusable and hurtful and such an offensive term has no place in the NBA or in our society," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Yesterday, he spoke to representatives of the Anti-Defamation League to better understand the impact of his words and we accept that he is genuinely remorseful. We have further communicated to Meyers that derogatory comments like this will not be tolerated and that he will be expected to uphold the core values of our league — equality, tolerance, inclusion and respect — at all times moving forward."
The Heat banned the Leonard "indefinitely" after the video surfaced on Tuesday, saying it "vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech." The nine-year veteran was already out for the season with a shoulder injury. Twitch, the streaming platform he was on, also banned the back-up center.
Leonard issued an apology Tuesday afternoon and claimed he didn't know what the slur meant when he used it.
Heat coach, players denounce use of slur
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and veterans Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala all denounced Leonard's use of the slur on Wednesday.
Spoelstra said Leonard "has been a really good teammate, he's a human being" but emphasized that the use of the slur was "extremely distasteful and hurtful." He said the team is "left with the aftermath of that" and does not condone its use.
Haslem cited his Jewish friends in his apology and said he's reached out to them.
From the bottom of my heart and this organization, we apologize. That won't be tolerated here. We're going to be on the right side of these things moving forward. I felt it. I have a lot of Jewish friends. They call me Udonis Haslem-berg sometimes, so I felt it. I reached out to a couple of them after that happened, just to see how they were feeling and to make sure they were OK and just let them know that we don't condone that and that won't be tolerated here and they can continue to just be confident that those type of things don't happen around here in this locker room.
And Iguodala noted that "people have to be held accountable for their actions" and it's up to Leonard to "right the wrong" and educate himself on the history of it.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman issued an open letter to Leonard on Wednesday and explained why the language was so dangerous and hurtful. He invited Leonard to a Shabbat dinner when they're both in Miami.
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