Basketball star admits he 'destroyed his life' with antisemitic slur
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Free agent Meyers Leonard is set to return to the NBA after spending two years away from the court.
It comes after a lengthy injury lay-off after undergoing surgery for nerve damage in his right leg and a suspension for uttering an antisemitic slur on a livestream.
The Milwaukee Bucks are taking a chance on the 7-foot-tall player with a 10-day contract.
They say they have been monitoring his progress for over a year and have decided to bring the big man in due to his shooting ability.
It has caused quite a stir, due to the nature of Leonard’s road back to the NBA since playing his last game in January 2021 with the Miami Heat.
He copped a one-week suspension and a $50,000 fine for the antisemitic slur that was said while livestreaming and playing video games.
However, in an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, he revealed that he has been making headway in bettering himself and becoming educated on the history of the slur.
He told ESPN: “There are absolutely no excuses for what happened that day.
"And ignorance, sadly, is a very real thing. I am not running from this, but I did not know that it happened."
The 30-year-old claims he didn’t understand the meaning behind the word and has since sought counselling from two rabbis while meeting with several Jewish organisations on a frequent basis.
Our interview with @MeyersLeonard, the former Portland and Miami center who is hoping to return to the NBA. Nearly two years ago, he used an antisemitic slur while playing Call of Duty on Twitch. A warning--this story includes offensive language. pic.twitter.com/rWmt48Y8ID— Jeremy Schaap (@JeremySchaap) February 1, 2023
Leonard continued: “I felt like I had just destroyed my life and everything that I worked for, to be honest.
"... People had every right to, I suppose, make assumptions about me. People were going to have to, in the media, comment on this. And I understand, I do.
"I said, 'You better go handle this and to show people what's in your heart.' ... I thought that it'd be easier to be dead than it would be to deal with what had just happened, because I want everyone to like me.
“I don't hate anybody. I would never intentionally hurt anybody."
Leonard was traded from the Heat to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2021 and was immediately waved.
He is now getting a second chance in the NBA with his 10-day contract with the Bucks.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said: “Since his use of a derogatory and unacceptable term in 2021, Meyers Leonard has been held accountable and has dedicated considerable time and effort to understand the impact of his comment.
"He has met with numerous leaders in the Jewish community and participated in community programs to educate himself and use his platform to share his learnings with others."
Featured Image Credit: @JeremySchaap/Twitter. Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy.
Topics: NBA, Basketball, US Sports