Back in March, the NBA finished its investigation into Meyers Leonard, who shouted an anti-Semitic racial slur while live streaming on Twitch, and slapped the former Miami Heat center with a six-figure fine and suspension.
On March 11, Leonard was fined $50,000 by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and suspended from all Heat facilities and team activities for one week. On March 18, the Heat traded Leonard to the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a 2027 second-round pick, in exchange for veteran forward Trevor Ariza.
Immediately afterward, the Thunder released the following statement: “Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization.”
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In addition to the fine and suspension, the NBA also required for the 29-year-old to attend a cultural-diversity program. On June 13, Leonard continued his apology tour by visiting a synagogue in Boca Raton to do a basketball clinic with kids. West Palm TV’s Theo Dorsey tweeted that Leonard talked to the crowd about how “he’s cried every day for 3 straight months including on the way to the synagogue today.”
While Leonard didn’t agree to a formal interview during Sunday’s event, the 7-foot center took questions from the crowd, and “most have been them telling Leonard they appreciate his response to the situation,” Dorsey tweeted.
Leonard Hasn’t Posted on Instagram Since Claiming He Did Not Know the Meaning of the Word ‘K***’ In His Apology Statement
Before the NBA issued Leonard’s punishment, Origin PC, one of his gaming sponsors, cut ties with the Heat player, according to TMZ.
On Tuesday evening, Leonard issued a lengthy apology via Instagram, claiming he didn’t know what the word meant at the time. He apologized for his “ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community. … I was just wrong.”
“This is not a proper representation of who I am,” Leonard wrote. “I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.” Leonard’s Instagram apology letter said in part, “I want to apologize to the Arisons (the Jewish owners of the Miami Heat), my teammates, coaches front office, and everyone associated with the Miami Heat organization, to my family, to our loyal fans and to others in the Jewish community who I have hurt.”
Leonard Enters Free Agency This Summer: ‘I Will Make My Way Back’
Before getting traded, Leonard had purchased an $8 million home in Miami, making it clear that he wanted to stay with the Heat after his two-year, $19.5 million contract expired.
While it’s highly unlikely that the Illinois alum will suit up again with the Heat, Leonard will get a chance to return to the NBA when free agency starts this summer. This past season, Leonard appeared in just three games before injuring himself, averaging 3.3 points on 42.9% shooting on three-pointers and 2.3 rebounds. In February, he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
Preparing to get back on the court, Leonard is prioritizing his mental game. “My goal is to work behind the scenes to heal what happened and to hopefully forgive myself which I’m still not there but I’m trying,” Leonard said, as reported by Dorsey. “I will make my way back, mark my words.”