The NBA's Miami Heat distanced itself from a player who earlier this week used an anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game live streamed over the internet.
Meyers Leonard, a seven-foot-one-inch center on the Heat, on Monday called another gamer a "k---" during a "Call of Duty" match that was being streamed over the online gaming broadcast service Twitch.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,” the Heat said in a statement.
“The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise," the team added. "To hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing and hurtful to all those who work here, as well as the larger South Florida, Miami Heat and NBA communities.”
In a social media post on Tuesday, Leonard acknowledged his use of the slur, claimed he did not know the term was offensive to Jewish people and apologized.
“I acknowledge and own my mistake and there’s no running from something like this that is so hurtful to someone else,” Leonard said. "My ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.”
The NBA said it is investigating the incident and weighing possible punishment for the seventh-year player.
“The NBA unequivocally condemns all forms of hate speech,” league spokesman Mike Bass told The Associated Press.
The Heat said Leonard will be spending time away from the team, which will begin its second half of the season following the All-Star Break this week.
Leonard could become a free agent this summer, the AP noted, and the Heat hold an option on his contract for the 2021-2022 season totaling about $10 million. He has appeared in just three games this year for Miami.