The NBA and Miami Heat are reviewing a clip circulating social media that shows Meyers Leonard uttering an anti-Semitic slur during a live stream on his Twitch channel, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel and Shams Charania of The Athletic. The clip was from a stream that aired Monday, but was only posted to social media Tuesday. The Heat announced on Tuesday night that Leonard would be away from the team indefinitely as they cooperate with the league’s investigation.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,” the team wrote 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.”
Leonard was seen playing “Call of Duty: Warzone,” and said “F—–g cowards, don’t f—–g snipe at me you f—–g k— b—-.” The context of the comment as it relates to his gameplay is not clear as the clip was taken from a stream that was not saved onto his Twitch profile — streamers can leave older live streams up on their channel if they so choose to.
Leonard was streaming when the clip started circulating around Twitter. As Defector.com noted, the people in the chat began to be populated with viewers who brought up the slur. Moderators tried to delete messages and ban those users, but eventually had to switch over to a mode where users could only post emotes, Twitch’s version of emojis. Shortly after the stream abruptly ended, he deleted recent tweets with references to his streams and all of his archived Twitch videos, as Kevin Draper of the New York Times pointed out.
On Tuesday afternoon, Leonard issued an apology for the incident.
“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 my own 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.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass released the following statement after the clip was brought to the league’s attention:
“We just became aware of the video and are in the process of gathering more information. The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech.”
Leonard has not played since Jan. 9 and is currently recovering from shoulder surgery.