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Miami Heat say Meyers Leonard will be "away from the team indefinitely" as NBA investigates use of anti-Semitic slur

Meyers Leonard
 Meyers Leonard in 2020. Sarah Stier/Getty

Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard "will be away from the team indefinitely" after he said an anti-Semitic slur while streaming himself playing a video game on Twitch, the team announced Tuesday night. Leonard uttered the slur during a "Call of Duty: Warzone" live play on Monday.

In a statement released Tuesday night, the team condemned the use of hate speech, saying, "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."

In a now-viral video clip posted on social media, Leonard could be heard shouting, "F-----g cowards, don't f-----g snipe at me you f-----g k--- b----." While the stream was initially broadcast on Monday, the incident did not appear to pick up much attention until it was reposted by other social media users on Tuesday. The video was deleted from Leonard's Twitch channel.

On Tuesday afternoon, as the video was circulating on social media, Leonard was live streaming another CoD session when he received a phone call. He immediately ended the stream, saying his wife needed him. 

Later that evening, he posted an apology on social media, claiming he'd been unaware of what the word meant.

"I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday," Leonard 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."

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told CBS News on Tuesday afternoon, "We just became aware of the video and are in the process of gathering more information. The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech." 

Leonard is currently out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in January.

The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday tweeted: "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."

In addition to the NBA investigation, Leonard is also dealing with fallout in the online gaming realm.

Some of Leonard's pro-gaming sponsors, including custom PC builder OriginPC, gaming controller maker SCUF and accessories manufacturer ASTRO Gaming, released statements on Twitter, saying they were ending their relationships with him. FaZe Clan, an eSports organization in which Leonard has been an investor since 2019, similarly distanced itself from the 29-year-old. 

A spokesperson for Twitch told CBS News, "We do not allow the use of hateful slurs on Twitch. The safety of our community is our top priority, and per our guidelines we reserve the right to suspend any account for conduct that we determine to be inappropriate, harmful, or puts our community at risk." 

The streaming giant did not elaborate on whether or not it plans to suspend Leonard's account.

Justin Carissimo contributed reporting. 

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