NBA player uses anti-Semitic slur during livestream

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Miami Heat forward Meyers Leonard at basket in NBA basketball game, Dec 14, 2019. (AP/Michael Ainsworth)

By Joseph Wolkin, World Israel News

Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard, 29, is coming under fire after using the anti-Semitic “K” word while playing “Call of Duty: Warzone” this week.

“F—–g cowards, don’t f—–g snipe at me you f—–g k— b—-,” Leonard shouted on a live stream via Twitch.

Leonard’s tirade rapidly spread across social media, forcing the Miami Heat and the NBA to take action. On Wednesday morning, the Heat announced Leonard is on leave from the team.

“The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise,” the Heat said in a press release

“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.”

When users tried to let Twitch moderators know about Leonard’s use of the anti-Semitic slur, the moderators attempted to silence them, according to Defector.com.

Leonard eventually issued a written apology.

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

“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 my own mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else,” Leonard added.

“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.”

While the NBA said it “unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech,” no major NBA players came forward to condemn Leonard’s comments.

Julian Edelman, the Jewish NFL wide receiver who plays for the New England Patriots, issued a public letter to Leonard. In the letter, Edelman not only invited Leonard to learn about why his use of the anti-Semitic slur is wrong but to see what a Shabbat dinner is like as well.

“Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment,” Edelman said. “That’s what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.”