Meyers Leonard, who was suspended in March 2021 after using an anti-Semitic slur during a live video game broadcast, reportedly signed a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Leonard has not played in the NBA since January 2021 due to his suspension and injuries that occurred right after he was traded by the Miami Heat after the incident, only to be released by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leonard spoke at length on ESPN’s «Outside the Lines» about his remorse for using the anti-Semitic slur.
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«I feel like I’m living in a bad dream,» Leonard explained. «…And I know I made a big, big mistake.»
While he admitted that «less than ideal language is used» in video games, Leonard made no 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 used the slur among other swear words while playing a video game.
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«J—cowards. Don’t shoot me. You s—-d—,» Leonard said during the broadcast.
«There is absolutely no excuse for what happened that day,» he said via ESPN. «And ignorance, unfortunately, is a very real thing… I’m not running from this, but I didn’t know it happened.»
Leonard was proactive in «showing people what’s in his heart,» visiting rabbis in South Florida for counseling, as well as members of the Jewish community to educate himself, an NBA spokesman said.
Anti-Semitism 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 on Instagram an Amazon link to a 2018 movie. containing anti-Semitic disinformation.
Leonard was asked about that situation during his interview with ESPN.
«I can only speak for myself, and what I would say is that anti-Semitism is very real and more people need to be educated and understand everything.»
Leonard had to issue an apology on Instagram at the time of the incident, but was later suspended for a week and fined $50,000 by the league. He was with the Heat for two seasons at the time, but they traded him to OKC and he became a free agent after 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 the past two seasons, which has played a role 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 a chance to sign him after the 10 days are up.
If he does play for Milwaukee, Leonard said he’s a little concerned about what others might say when he returns to the game.
«I’ll be a little bit scared by 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 in his career thus far. The Portland Trail Blazers selected him with the 11th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Illinois.