“Since his use of a derogatory and unacceptable term in 2021, Meyers Leonard has been held accountable and has dedicated considerable time and effort to understand the impact of his comment,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said recently, according to ESPN. “He has met with numerous leaders in the Jewish community and participated in community programs to educate himself and use his platform to share his learnings with others.”
Report: Meyers Leonard to Return to NBA Almost Three Years After Saying Antisemitic Slur During Live Stream
by Shiryn Ghermezian
Meyers Leonard may get another shot at an NBA career after reportedly signing a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks nearly three years after he used an antisemitic slur — and then apologized — while playing a video game that was being live streamed, source told ESPN on Monday.
The free agent, 30, has not played an NBA game since January 2021 when he was a center for the Miami Heat. In March of that year he said, “Don’t f–ing snipe me, you f–ing k–e b—h” to an opponent while they were playing Call of Duty: Warzone on the platform Twitch. His return to the NBA was delayed also because of injuries, including post-surgical nerve damage on his right leg, and ankle and shoulder rehabilitations. The Bucks have been monitoring Leonard’s progress for over a year and did a workout with him last month to see how he performs, sources told ESPN.
Leonard previously played 28 playoff games in his seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. After he uttered the antisemitic slur in March 2021, he was given a one-week NBA suspension, a $50,000 fine and the NBA required him to participate in a cultural diversity program. He was also dropped from a number of gaming sponsors, suspended from Twitch and traded from the Miami Heat to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which dropped him shortly after.
In his apology for saying the antisemitic slur he claimed “ignorance,” saying that “didn’t know what the word meant at the time.” He also said he was in contact with multiple Jewish organizations, Holocaust survivors and Jewish leaders about his actions.
In an interview last month with ESPN‘s Outside the Lines, Leonard reiterated that he did not know the meaning of the offensive slur. He explained, “There are absolutely no excuses for what happened that day. And ignorance, sadly, is a very real thing…I don’t hate anybody. I would never intentionally hurt anybody.”