The Miami Heat placed Meyers Leonard on indefinite leave hours after a video surfaced of the reserve center using an anti-Jewish slur during a video game livestream.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech… to hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing,” the team said in a statement Tuesday.
The NBA is in the process of investigating the 11-second clip recorded Monday on Twitch, the popular livestreaming platform for video game players.
Leonard said the slur in between other vulgarities while playing “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a multiplayer video game.
“F—ing cowards,” he said. “Don’t f—ing snipe at me. You k— b–h.”
The 29-year-old later claimed he did not know what the epithet meant.
“My ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong,” Leonard wrote on Instagram.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism, said on Twitter it was “shocked and disappointed” at Leonard’s use of the word.
A nine-year NBA veteran, Leonard averaged 3.3 points, 0.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 9.7 minutes this season before undergoing season-ending surgery in January for a shoulder strain. It is unclear whether Leonard, who is under contract for one year at $9.4 million, will be paid while he is away from the team.
Leonard is an avid video game player, and uses Twitch not just to record himself playing games but also to connect with fans.
While Leonard’s status with the Heat is uncertain, the esports organization FaZe Clan said it was cutting ties with the 7-foot-1 investor.
Leonard also made headlines during the summer when he was the only Heat player to stand during the national anthem while his teammates, many of whom were black, knelt to protest police brutality and social injustice.
Leonard, who was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt, said he stood out of respect for his brother who served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps.
“I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people,” Leonard told the Associated Press at the time. “I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true.”