Star player Meyers Leonard was hit with a $50,000 fine and suspended for a week: anti-Semitic language “has no place in the NBA.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The NBA fined Miami Heat basketball player Meyers Leonard $50,000 and suspended him from all team activities for a week for using an anti-Semitic slur while playing an online computer game, the league announced Thursday.
Leonard was playing the game Call of Duty: Warzone on his Twitch channel in which he competes against gamers online, and those in the game can record the action – including audible comments by the players. One participant recorded the game and uploaded the video to social media in which Leonard Meyers is heard calling another player a “coward” before calling another opponent a “f***ing kike b**ch.”
“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 on the league’s website.
“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,” Silver said. “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.”
Leonard’s team acknowledged the disciplinary action by the league and said it will continue to communicate with him during the suspension.
“While we remain hurt and disappointed by what he said, we are encouraged that Meyers has started to take the necessary steps to educate himself about why his comments were so offensive,” the Heat said in a statement.
Following the reports of the incident, well-known Jewish professional football star Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots, who has previously talked to athletes about anti-Semitism, reached out to Leonard, saying he would like to meet the basketball player and “offer some perspective.”
“I’m down in Miami fairly often. Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends. I’ll show you a fun time,” added the NFL standout, who has won three Super Bowls.
Prior to Edelman’s invitation, Leonard posted online, “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.”
Leonard added, “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.”