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Heat's Meyers Leonard to remain away from team after use of anti-Semitic slur

Heat's Meyers Leonard to remain away from team after use of anti-Semitic slur
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard could be heard using an anti-Semitic slur Monday during a broadcast on Twitch. Photo courtesy of the Miami Heat

March 9 (UPI) -- Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard will remain away from the team indefinitely after using an anti-Semitic slur during a recent video game live stream, the organization said in a statement Tuesday night.

"The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech," the team said. "The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise.

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"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 apologized in an Instagram post Tuesday evening, saying the slur was "not a proper representation of who I am." He noted that he didn't know what the slur meant at the time.

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"I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a live stream [Monday]," Leonard wrote on Instagram. "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.

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"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."

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Earlier Tuesday, the NBA announced it was reviewing a video of Leonard using an anti-Semitic slur during a live stream on Twitch. It is possible that Leonard could face sanctions from the league.

"We just became aware of the video and are in the process of gathering more information," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement. "The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech."

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In a video that surfaced on social media Tuesday, Leonard was heard saying: "[Expletive] cowards. Don't [expletive] snipe me, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]."

Leonard, who is an avid gamer, used the anti-Semitic slur Monday during a broadcast on Twitch. The incident didn't appear to gain much attention until the clip circulated on social media the next day.

On Tuesday afternoon, as the video continued to circle around social media, Leonard abruptly ended a live stream after receiving a phone call and saying his wife needed him.

Gaming companies Astro Gaming, Origin PC and Scuf Gaming said in statements posted to Twitter that they have terminated their partnerships with Leonard.

Leonard, a 7-foot center in his ninth NBA season, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in January. He appeared in only three games for the Heat this season.

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The 29-year-old Leonard could become a free agent in the upcoming off-season. Miami holds a team option on him for next season worth about $10 million.

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