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  • Writer's pictureByron Washington

Meyers Leonard: Controversy


Meyers Leonard stands before Game 6 of the NBA Finals while teammates kneel (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Miami Heat have announced that the organization has suspended center Meyers Leonard indefinitely, strongly fighting back against Leonard’s use of an anti-Semitic slur he uttered while live-streaming a video game he was playing on Monday.

“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.

On Tuesday afternoon a clip of Leonard calling an opponent a “Kike bitch” along with other expletives while playing Call of Duty: Warzone, made its way around the web and became the number one trending topic on Twitter. Leonard put out a statement through Instagram apologizing, stating he didn’t quite actually know what the word meant. “I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a live-stream yesterday. 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 said.

The damage had already been done, the NBA is said to be reviewing the situation according to spokesman Mike Bass, Twitch the online gaming, live-stream platform Leonard use the language on has banned him, two of his sponsors in Origin PC and Scuf gaming has ceased all working relationships with the center.

Leonard has promised to seek help and be educated like so many have when caught up in racist or racially insensitive controversy. He says the language he used isn’t a clear depiction of his character but the question has to be asked, is it?

For starters, I admittedly didn’t know the meaning or connotation of the word Leonard used, and If I were a betting man I’m pretty sure lots of other people who aren’t Jewish or racist didn’t either. But what I won’t tolerate is Meyers Leonard lying. How can someone not know the meaning of the word they’re using when it was intended to be disrespectful to the gaming opponent he was up against.

This isn’t the first time he has used the word, it’s a part of his everyday vocabulary. Leonard was so caught up in the moment of the intense gaming battle that he forgot he was live-streaming in front of thousands of people and the word he used so many times before came tumbling out. I’m almost certain Leonard knew what he was saying, from my time spent playing the Call of Duty series as a kid while growing up. Never in my life have I been met with so many black offensive racial slurs than when I would play that game. If you want to know what I’m referring to just go to YouTube to view the hundreds of videos that are created on the subject.

I honestly don’t know how Leonard can come back from this or who is going to want to play with him. Besides this is the same guy who refused to kneel with his predominantly black teammates and colleagues in the ”NBA Bubble”, during the summer in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. Just as it was the players’ right to kneel in solidarity as a sign of peaceful protest it was Leonard’s right to not kneel. At the time he gave his reasoning.

“I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country.” He continued. ”I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people. I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into Black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true. I will continue to use my platform, my voice, and my actions to show how much I care about the African American culture and for everyone.

The quote was from Meyers Leonard in August, now nearly seven months later, the man who claims he loves all people mistakenly spoke a word he had no meaning of and in doing so in anger. The compassionate and considerate human being’s antics aren’t going to just breeze on by this time around, he has no cop-out, therefore his career might be done.


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