NBA Player Meyers Leonard Fined $50,000 After 'Inexcusable and Hurtful' Racial Slur Incident
The NBA fined Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard $50,000 for using a racial slur while hosting a video game stream on Monday.
Leonard, 29, was recorded using an anti-Semitic slur during a live broadcast of Call of Duty on the streaming platform, Twitch. A clip of the incident went viral on social media Tuesday and drew swift condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and the Heat.
New England Patriots star Julian Edelman, who is Jewish, published an open letter about the incident to Leonard on Wednesday.
Along with the fine, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, obtained by PEOPLE, that Leonard will be required to participate in a cultural diversity program. Leonard will be suspended from all Heat facilities and team activities for one week.
"Meyers Leonard's comment was inexcusable and hurtful and such an offensive term has no place in the NBA or in our society. 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 in the statement.
"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," Silver added.
Leonard has so far missed most of the 2020-21 season and is expected not to see playing time until next year after undergoing shoulder surgery.
After the clip from Leonard's gaming stream went viral, he issued an apology on his Instagram page.
"I am deeply sorry for using the anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday," he wrote. "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,"
"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," Leonard continued, in part.
Leonard isn't the only professional to have sparked criticism for their behavior during a gaming broadcast in recent months.
Racecar driver Kyle Larson used the N-word during a virtual NASCAR race in April 2020. He was subsequently suspended, fired from Chip Ganassi Racing, and told to attend sensitivity training before being reinstated in October.
NASCAR driver Hailie Deegan was required to take sensitivity training before the start of the 2021 season after she used a slur about people with special needs during a broadcast on Twitch.
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