Myers Leonard seeks a return to the NBA’s post-antisemitic slur

Myers Leonard, a former first-round NBA participant who hasn’t performed within the league since 2021 after utilizing an anti-Semitic slur throughout a dwell online game broadcast, advised ESPN there have been “no excuses” for what he did, however that he expects to play within the NBA. as soon as once more.

“I really feel like I am dwelling in a nasty dream,” Leonard advised Outdoors the Traces’ Jeremy Shapp in an interview that aired Tuesday. “…there is no such thing as a unsavory cell in my physique. I do know I’ve made a horrible mistake.”

Leonard final performed within the NBA in January 2021. He was suspended in March 2021 for utilizing an antisemitic slur whereas enjoying a online game throughout a dwell broadcast. He underwent ankle surgical procedure in April 2021 and stated he suffered nerve harm because of the operation.

He has hung out rehabilitating from shoulder and ankle surgical procedures over the previous two seasons whereas out {of professional} basketball.

Leonard performed 447 video games within the NBA, averaging 5.6 factors and three.9 rebounds. He additionally gained notoriety for standing whereas his teammates knelt to attract consideration to the problem of police brutality through the enjoying of the nationwide anthem within the Orlando Bubble through the COVID-19 postponement of the 2019-20 season.

He later stated in an article for ESPN’s Andscape that he supported the navy (his brother served in Afghanistan) and had “a ache in my coronary heart” for individuals of colour after the killing of George Floyd and the capturing of Jacob Blake in 2020.

Now in his 30s, Leonard most not too long ago labored with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard advised Younger he didn’t know the historical past or that means of the antisemitic slur he used, however stated “there’s lower than good language utilized in a great portion of video video games.”

He added, “No excuses in any respect for what occurred that day. Sadly ignorance is a really actual factor… I am not working away from this, however I simply did not comprehend it occurred.”

In response to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents reached an all-time excessive of two,717 in the US in 2021 — a mean of greater than seven incidents per day and a 34% year-over-year enhance. It’s the highest quantity on report for the reason that ADL started monitoring antisemitic occasions in 1979.

After his slander was made public, Leonard apologized on Instagram and was suspended by the NBA for per week. He was additionally fined $50,000. Every week after the accident, Miami traded him to Oklahoma Metropolis, which later launched him.

He advised a younger man, “I felt like I had simply ruined my life and the whole lot I would labored for, to be trustworthy.” “…Folks had each proper, I feel, to make assumptions about me. Folks, within the media, ought to have commented on this. And I perceive, I do.”

“I stated, you higher take care of this and present individuals what’s in your coronary heart.”

He added, “I believed it will be simpler to die than take care of what simply occurred, as a result of I need everybody to like me. I do not hate anybody. I would not damage anybody on goal.”

Leonard requested Kyrie Irvingwho tweeted and posted an Instagram story that included a hyperlink to a 2018 film on Amazon that was described as containing antisemitic misinformation.

“I can solely converse for myself and what I wish to say is that anti-Semitism could be very actual and extra individuals have to be educated and perceive the whole lot … in regards to the historical past of what occurred,” he stated.

Leonard added, “Most significantly, should you make a mistake or should you say one thing that perhaps you did not intend to harm somebody, however you then attempt to clarify it, that is merely the very best, in my view, to make an apology and embrace what occurred.”

“Since his use of the derogatory and unacceptable time period in 2021, Myers Leonard has been held accountable and has devoted vital effort and time to understanding the influence of his suspension,” stated NBA spokesperson Mike Bass. “He has met with a number of leaders within the Jewish neighborhood and took part in neighborhood applications to coach himself and use his platform to share what Study it with others.”

Particularly, Leonard indicated that he sought recommendation from two rabbis in South Florida. He additionally stated that he typically met with Jewish organizations and realized extra about anti-Semitism.

However he understands that he can be recognized for what he did and should take care of that if he returns to the NBA court docket.

He stated to a younger man, “I’d be slightly afraid of what somebody may say to me, what a fan may say.” “However I at all times come again to this: Do not hand over. In the event you’re a great particular person and you’re employed exhausting, issues will work out in life. And I consider that wholeheartedly.”

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