While it’s been a rough 24 hours for Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard following the blowback of him hurling an anti-semitic racial slur during his public Twitch live stream on March 9, the coming weeks may prove to be much worse for the 7-foot guard.
Leonard, 29, is being investigated by the NBA after shouting “F****** cowards. Don’t f****** snipe me! You f****** k*** b****.” On Tuesday night, the Miami Heat put out an official statement that said, “The Miami HEAT vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech” and that Leonard “will be away from the team indefinitely” while the NBA conducts its investigation.
The 29-year-old’s words do not align with the much-touted Heat Culture in Miami, and it would not be surprising if the Heat ultimately decide to separate themselves from the controversy and immediately waive Leonard. An added incentive to drop “The Hammer” sooner than later, the $4.8 million disabled player exception money the Heat received following Leonard’s season-ending shoulder surgery, which they keep even if they waive Leonard
If the Heat don’t use the disabled player money by the end of the regular season, that money disappears.
There Also Financial Incentives to Retain Leonard
According to the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman, Leonard will continue to receive full pay and NBA benefits while sequestered from all team activities. But the March 25 deadline is looming, and there are also financial incentives for the Heat to retain him through the end of the season.
The controversial NBA player’s $9.4 million 2020-21 salary can still be used by Miami to “balance a trade under the salary cap, with Leonard then potentially released by an acquiring team.,” Winderman noted. “Leonard, because of his contract status, has the right to veto any trade.”
Miami has a $10.2 million team option for next season on Leonard’s contract, an incentive for the Heat to keep him on their roster for a postseason trade. But if the Heat trade Leonard, that $4.8 million “exception to add a player above the salary cap this season would be extinguished.”
Leonard’s Apology Claimed He Did Not Know the Meaning of the Word ‘K***’
While Heat fans wait and see what the Heat ultimately decide to do with Leonard, Origin PC, one of his gaming sponsors, has already 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 and apologizing 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.”
Users online noted that Micky Arison, who owns the Miami Heat franchise, is a Jewish billionaire businessman born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. In 2017, the Miami Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan wrote about how the Heat’s large Jewish fanbase responded when the playoffs coincided with the Passover holiday.
Leonard’s Instagram apology letter said in part, “I want to apologize to the Arisons, 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, who recently purchased an $8 million home in Miami, has made it clear that he would like to stay with the Heat after his two-year, $19.5 million contract expires at the end of the season.