Meyers Leonard is getting another chance at the NBA, nearly two years after he used an antisemitic slur during a video game livestream.
Leonard and the Milwaukee Bucks are reported to have agreed on a 10-day contract, opening the door for the 7ft center to play in an NBA game for the first time since January 2021. ESPN first reported the agreement between Leonard and the Bucks.
Leonard’s career was jeopardized and his reputation was seriously damaged in March 2021 when his slur came to light. The Heat told him to stay away from the team indefinitely, NBA commissioner Adam Silver fined him $50,000 and Miami eventually traded him to Oklahoma City.
Leonard said then that he knew he’d used an offensive term but was unaware of the term’s meaning. In an apology, he 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.” He met with Holocaust survivors, rabbis in south Florida and other community leaders. He has since spoken and worked with several Jewish groups, and put on basketball camps for Jewish children.
Leonard was not going to play in the remainder of that 2020-21 season after suffering a shoulder injury in January 2021, two months before the incident. He has since dealt with ankle and other issues but has been working toward an NBA return for months.
For the Bucks, the move carries almost no risk. They will have 10 days to see if Leonard – who was with Miami for their run to the 2020 NBA finals – can help with their playoff push.
Most players and coaches chose to kneel in that bubble for the playing of the US and Canadian national anthems when the NBA season resumed. Leonard stood instead, his hand over his heart, and did so with the support of Heat teammates.
For his career, Leonard has averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds on 48% shooting, 39% from three-point range.
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