An NBA star has been banned from Twitch and has been dropped by sponsors after using an antisemitic slur while playing Call of Duty: Warzone.
While playing Warzone live on Twitch, 29-year-old Miami Heat player Meyers Leonard, said: "F***ing cowards, don't f***ing snipe me, you f***ing k*** bitch." A clip of the moment subsequently went viral on social media, where it has had millions of views.
Leonard's Twitch channel, which had 58,000 followers, has now been deleted. But it looks like things are about to get a lot worse for the NBA star, whose future with the Miami Heat is now in serious doubt.
The Miami Heat said Leonard will be "away from the team indefinitely", and strongly critised his use of the antisemitic slur.
"The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech," the team said.
"The words used by Meyers Leonard were wrong and we will not tolerate hateful language from anyone associated with our franchise. To hear it from a Miami Heat player is especially disappointing and hurtful to all those who work here, as well as the larger South Florida, Miami Heat and NBA communities."
Leonard apologised for using the term in a statement posted to Instagram, insisting he did not know what it meant when he used it Monday.
"I am deeply sorry for using an antisemitic slur during a livestream yesterday," the statement read. "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. 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."
The NBA has also launched an investigation.
Leonard invested in esports organisation FaZe Clan in 2019. Now, FaZe Clan has said it is "cutting ties" with Leonard.
"We were incredibly disappointed to hear Meyers' stream today," FaZe said.
"FaZe does not tolerate hate speech or discriminatory language of any kind. While Meyers is not a member of FaZe, we are cutting ties with him."
A statement from FaZe Clan. pic.twitter.com/ePo1NGEaN5— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) March 9, 2021
Gaming companies Astro Gaming, Origin PC and Scuf Gaming have also said they are terminating their relationships with the player.
A comment was recently made by Meyers Leonard that does not reflect the values or views of ORIGIN PC. We have decided to cease our working relationship with Meyers as we look into it further.— originpc (@ORIGINPC) March 9, 2021
A comment was recently made by Meyers Leonard that does not reflect the values or views of SCUF. We have decided to cease our working relationship with Meyers as we look into it further.— SCUF (@ScufGaming) March 9, 2021
Last year, Leonard hit the headlines for being one of the first players to stand for the national anthem amid league-wide kneeling as a form of silent protest against racial inequality in the United States. According to the NBA, Leonard has a brother who served two tours in Afghanistan with the US Marines, carries a military-themed backpack, wears combat boots and has a phone loaded with Navy SEALs who are his friends.
Leonard had surgery on his left shoulder last month and is expected to miss the rest of the season. It now seems unlikely he will have a team to play for when he's fit again.