Meyers Leonard, who was suspended in March 2021 after using an antisemitic slur during a video game livestream, has reportedly signed a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Leonard hasn't played in the NBA since January 2021 due to his suspension and injuries that occurred right after being traded away by the Miami Heat following the incident, only to be released by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leonard spoke on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” at length about his remorse for using the antisemitic slur.
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“I feel like I’m living in a bad dream,” Leonard explained. “… And I know that I made a huge, huge mistake.”
While admitting “there’s less than ideal language used” in video gaming, Leonard didn’t make any excuses.
At the time, Leonard had more than 69,000 followers on his Twitch account and more than 550,000 between Twitter and Instagram when he was using the slur among other expletives while playing a video game.
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“F—ing cowards. Don’t f—ing snipe me. You f—ing k— b—-,” Leonard said during the stream.
“There are absolutely no excuses for what happened that day,” he said via ESPN. “And ignorance, sadly, is a very real thing. … I am not running from this, but I did not know that it happened.”
Leonard was proactive to “show people what’s in your heart,” visiting with rabbis in South Florida for counseling as well as members of the Jewish community to educate himself, said an NBA spokesman.
Antisemitism became a hot topic when now-Dallas Mavericks star Kyrie Irving was suspended by his then-team, the Brooklyn Nets, last fall after tweeting and posting to Instagram an Amazon link to a 2018 film that contained antisemitic disinformation.
Leonard was asked about that situation during his ESPN interview.
“I can only speak for myself, and what I would say is that antisemitism is very real and more people do need to be educated and understand everything.”
Leonard had to issue an apology on Instagram at the time of the incident, but he was later suspended one week and fined $50,000 by the league. He was with the Heat for two seasons at that point, but they traded him to OKC and was rendered a free agent after the release.
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Leonard then underwent ankle surgery in April 2021, which ended up causing nerve damage. He also dealt with shoulder and ankle surgeries over the past two seasons, which has played a factor in not playing in the NBA.
He recently had a workout with the Los Angeles Lakers but is trying his luck with the Bucks, who have the chance to sign him after the 10 days are up.
If he plays for Milwaukee, Leonard said he is a bit uneasy about what others might say when he gets back into the game.
“I’ll be a little scared of what someone might say to me, what a fan might say,” he said. “But I always come back to this: Don’t give up. If you’re a good person and you work hard, things are going to work out in life.”
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Leonard has averaged 5.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 16 minutes per game over his career thus far. The Portland Trail Blazers took him with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Illinois.