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 reside online game broadcast, informed 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 residing in a foul dream,” Leonard informed Exterior the Traces’ Jeremy Shapp in an interview that aired Tuesday. “…there isn’t 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 taking part in a online game throughout a reside 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 taking part in 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 folks of coloration after the killing of George Floyd and the taking pictures of Jacob Blake in 2020.

Now in his 30s, Leonard most just lately labored with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard informed 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 portion of video video games.”

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

In response to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents reached an all-time excessive of two,717 in the USA in 2021 — a median of greater than seven incidents per day and a 34% year-over-year improve. It’s the highest quantity on file 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 every week. He was additionally fined $50,000. Per week after the accident, Miami traded him to Oklahoma Metropolis, which later launched him.

He informed a younger man, “I felt like I had simply ruined my life and every part I might labored for, to be sincere.” “…Individuals had each proper, I believe, to make assumptions about me. Individuals, within the media, ought to have commented on this. And I perceive, I do.”

“I stated, you higher cope with this and present folks what’s in your coronary heart.”

He added, “I assumed it might be simpler to die than cope with what simply occurred, as a result of I would like everybody to like me. I do not hate anybody. I would not harm anybody on function.”

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 want to say is that anti-Semitism may be very actual and extra folks should be educated and perceive every part … concerning the historical past of what occurred,” he stated.

Leonard added, “Extra importantly, in case you make a mistake or in case you say one thing that perhaps you did not intend to harm somebody, however then you definitely attempt to clarify it, that is merely the very best, in my view, to ask for forgiveness and embody 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 impression of his suspension,” stated NBA spokesperson Mike Bass. “He has met with quite a few leaders within the Jewish group and took part in group packages to coach himself and use his platform to share what Be taught 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 cope with that if he ever returns to the NBA courtroom.

He stated to a younger man, “I’d be a bit afraid of what somebody would possibly say to me, what a fan would possibly say.” “However I all the time come again to this: Do not surrender. In the event you’re particular person and you’re employed laborious, issues will work out in life. And I consider that wholeheartedly.”

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