Meyers Leonard, 29, a Power forward / Center for the NBA’s Miami Heat will be “away from the team indefinitely,” according to the team because he used an anti-Semitic slur while he was playing the video game Call of Duty: Warzone on a public live stream.
The team issued a statement saying: “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.”
Here’s what he said (anesthetized for your protection): “[F expletive] cowards, don’t [F expletive] snipe at me you [K word rhymes with Mike] [B word rhymes with Rich].”
The video was recorded Monday and by Tuesday became the viral clip du jour after being posted to social media. By Tuesday afternoon it was the top trending topic on Twitter in the US.
Leonard posted an apology on Instagram, claiming he didn’t know what the K-word means. “My ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong,” he wrote.
The ADL tweeted it was shocked and disappointed. Apparently, it had expected more from the Miami Heat Power forward / Center.
We are shocked and disappointed to see @MeyersLeonard use this ugly, offensive #antisemitic slur.
We have reached out to the @MiamiHEAT and @NBA about this and urge Mr. Leonard to issue an apology immediately for this egregious and hateful rhetoric. https://t.co/gFLTHZeODS
— ADL (@ADL) March 9, 2021
Leonard was in the news last summer as the only Miami Heat player who remained standing during the national anthem while the rest of his teammates took a knee. Leonard explained that he had stood out of respect for his brother, Bailey, a Marine who served two tours in Afghanistan.
It’s hard to stand straight for the anthem while also taking a knee for the same anthem. He told The Associated Press: “I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people.”
The etymology of the word “kike” is dubious. One version says it started with the refusal of illiterate Jewish immigrants to sign with an X at Ellis Island—because it looked like a cross, so instead they drew a circle, or tzykle. Another suggests it comes from the name Ike, short for Isaac, which was used as a putdown for Jews in England. And there’s evidence, in a 1937 Der Morgen report, that the word was used by Jews as a slur against fellow Jews.