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Heat’s Meyers Leonard fined $50,000, suspended from team activities for anti-Semitic comment

Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard will face punishment from the NBA for an anti-Semitic slur he used earlier this week.

The NBA announced Thursday that Leonard has been fined $50,000 and suspended from all Heat activities for one week. Leonard will also be required to participate in a cultural diversity program.

The $50,000 fine is the maximum allowed by the NBA. The suspension does not include a loss in game checks, according to a league source.

Heat coach, teammates speak out against ‘distasteful and hurtful’ word used by Meyers Leonard

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement: “Meyers Leonard’s comment was inexcusable and hurtful and such an offensive term has no place in the NBA or in our society. Yesterday, he spoke to representatives of the Anti-Defamation League to better understand the impact of his words and we accept that he is genuinely remorseful. We have further communicated to Meyers that derogatory comments like this will not be tolerated and that he will be expected to uphold the core values of our league — equality, tolerance, inclusion and respect — at all times moving forward.”

The Heat responded to the NBA’s penalty with this statement issued Thursday evening: “Today, the NBA announced its discipline of Meyers Leonard, which included the maximum allowable fine of $50,000, a suspension from all Heat activities for one week, and requiring that he participate in cultural diversity training. While we remain hurt and disappointed by what he said, we are encouraged that Meyers has started to take the necessary steps to educate himself about why his comments were so offensive. We will continue to communicate with Meyers and his representatives while he remains away from the team.”

Leonard has faced strong backlash since he was heard saying,”F---ing cowards, don’t f---ing snipe me you f---ing k--e b--ch,” in a video that surfaced on Twitter on Tuesday. Leonard made the comment while streaming a Call of Duty video-gaming session Monday on Twitch’s live streaming platform.

The Heat announced Tuesday that Leonard “will be away from the team indefinitely.” It’s unclear if Leonard will be permitted to return to the team when the NBA’s one-week suspension is over.

Leonard, 29, appeared in just three games this season before sustaining a season-ending left shoulder injury in January. He’s currently owed $4.18 million of his $9.4 million salary for this season.

Leonard issued an apology Tuesday for his comments, posting this statement on his Instagram account: “I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday. While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.

“I am now more aware of its meaning and I am committed to properly seeking out people who can help educate me about this type of hate and how we can fight it. I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else. This is not a proper representation of who I am and 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. I promise to do better and know that my future actions will be more powerful than my use of this word.”

The Anti-Defamation League tweeted on Thursday: “Yesterday, ADL spoke with @MeyersLeonard where he expressed his deep remorse for using an #antisemitic slur. Learning and moving forward from this experience involves accepting responsibility and being open to understanding. We appreciate Mr. Leonard is moving in that direction.”

Leonard’s Heat coach and teammates made it clear they felt he must be held accountable for the language he used.

“I’m disappointed. Those words are extremely hurtful,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Wednesday when asked about Leonard’s situation. “We don’t condone that and there’s just so much more that needs to be done in terms of education on what’s right versus what’s wrong.

“We know Meyers. Meyers has been a really good teammate. He’s a good human being. He said something that was extremely distasteful and hurtful, and we’re left with the aftermath of that. But we don’t condone that, obviously. It was a disappointing day.”

Spoelstra said spoke with Leonard about the incident, and Leonard “feels really bad about it.”

“Basically that you can’t brush it under the rug,” Spoelstra said of what he told Leonard during their conversation. “There are consequences to words, and those were extremely hurtful words.”

ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of when the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Heat hosted the Charlotte Hornets that night, with the Hornets winning that game 109-98. But the result was relatively meaningless, with the stunning news that the season was being suspended trickling out toward the end of the Heat-Hornets game.

“We already started to hear rumblings during the fourth quarter against Charlotte that some games were being canceled,” Spoelstra said of March 11, 2020. “So quite naturally, you’re thinking that’s probably not going to happen. Then when we got back to the locker room, we started to hear and see all the news. The next day, we still didn’t know necessarily how long it would be. Certainly none of us thought it would be this long and continuing to be dealing with it. I remember the initial plan was we’ll take a few days, recalibrate, see what the landscape is and then adjust from there. Obviously, that took a lot longer than a few days.”

The season was suspended for a little more than four months, and play resumed in a Walt Disney World quarantine bubble on July 30.

INJURY UPDATE

Heat starting center Bam Adebayo (left knee tendinitis) and veteran guard Avery Bradley (right calf strain) were ruled out for the Heat’s first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night against the Orlando Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena. But Spoelstra said both are progressing in the right direction.

Of Adebayo, who missed his second straight game Thursday, Spoelstra said: “He’s making progress and we know how busy this second half of the season is going to be, so we want to continue to treat him and getting him feeling better and able to handle the rush of games that will be happening starting tomorrow night.”

Of Bradley, who missed his 16 straight game Thursday, Spoelstra said: “He’s on track. If you have a muscle pull, it takes about this many weeks to get back to work and then you start to condition the muscle. He has been putting in a lot of work behind the scenes. But we don’t want to take any steps back when he does get back on the court. ... I’m not surprised at all. I’m encouraged by the work that he has been able to put in.”

The Heat travels to take on the Chicago Bulls on Friday (9 p.m., Fox Sports Sun) to complete the back-to-back set. Adebayo and Bradley’s status for that contest remains unclear.

The Heat has three players who made the list of the 57 finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team: Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson. The list was announced by USA Basketball on Thursday.

The official 12-member U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team roster will be announced later this year.