Meyers Leonard, a player with the NBA’s Miami Heat who was caught saying an anti-Semitic slur, has gotten some support from another athlete.
Julian Edelman, a wide receiver with the New England Patriots who is Jewish, posted a message to Leonard on Twitter Wednesday.
“An open letter to Meyers Leonard,” he began.
“So we’ve never met, I hope we can one day soon. I’m sure you’ve been getting lots of criticism for what you said. Not trying to add to that, I just want to offer some perspective.”
Leonard, 29, was caught making an anti-Semitic comment while he played Call of Duty on Twitch, a livestreaming platform used by gamers. A video of the comment made the rounds on social media Tuesday.
“F------ cowards. Don’t f------ snipe me, you f------ k--- b----,” Leonard can be heard saying. On Tuesday night, the Heat condemned Leonard’s choice of words in a tweet, while also announcing he will “be away from the team indefinitely.”
Edelman, 34, remained measured in his approach, assuming Leonard ultimately didn’t mean anything by what he said, seemingly unaware how “destructive” his comment was.
“I get the sense that you didn’t use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance,” Edelman wrote. “More likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That’s what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.”
Edelman also extended an offer to speak with the nine-year NBA veteran.
“I’m down in Miami fairly often. Let’s do a Shabbat dinner with some friends I’ll show you a fun time,” he concluded.
Reaction to Leonard has been strong. The Anti-Defamation League chastised him and various gaming companies ended any relationship they have with Leonard.
For his part, Leonard apologized in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
“While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, 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 wrote in part.
“I am now more aware of its meaning and I am committed to properly seeking out people who can help educate me about this type of hate and how we can fight it.”