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 foul dream,” Leonard advised Outdoors 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 enjoying a online game throughout a dwell broadcast. He underwent ankle surgical procedure in April 2021 and mentioned he suffered nerve injury 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 mentioned 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 what’s occurring in America, significantly the African-American group” after the murders of George Floyd and George Floyd. Picture by 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 which means of the antisemitic slur he used, however mentioned “there’s lower than good language utilized in portion of video video games.”

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

In keeping with 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 improve. 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 every 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 all the things I might labored for, to be sincere.” “…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 mentioned, you higher take care of this and present folks what’s in your coronary heart.”

He added, “I assumed it could be simpler to die than take care of 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 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 communicate for myself and what I want to say is that anti-Semitism could be very actual and extra folks should be educated and perceive all the things … in regards to the historical past of what occurred,” he mentioned.

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 then you definately attempt to clarify it, that is merely one of the best, for my part, to express regret 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 affect of his suspension,” mentioned NBA spokesperson Mike Bass. “He has met with a number of leaders within the Jewish group and took part in group packages 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 mentioned that he typically met with Jewish organizations and realized extra about anti-Semitism.

However he understands that he will probably be recognized for what he did and must take care of that if he returns to the NBA courtroom.

He mentioned to a younger man, “I might be somewhat 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 quit. Should you’re particular person and you’re employed exhausting, issues will work out in life. And I consider that wholeheartedly.”

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