Earlier this week, Miami Heat big man Meyers Leonard was witnessed using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream on his Twitch account, which has since been suspended.
Leonard, who was featured just six months ago during the NBA Finals in a touching tribute to his brother Bailey (who served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan), has been the subject of plenty of dialogue and rhetoric since that livestream, while the event itself is now a hot topic in ongoing discussions and debate about cancel culture.
Charles Barkley, during a recent broadcast of TNT's “Inside the NBA”, echoed sentiments made by New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, which urged viewers and fans to forgive Meyers Leonard. Barkley then went on to widen the scope of Leonard's livestream, warning all viewers to beware of statements or words that can't be taken back, and to share his dislike for the intensity of “cancel culture”.
“We live in a society today,” Barkley said, via Ira Winderman. “they call it the cancel culture, when everybody says something stupid or dumb, we want to end their life. I’m not a big believer in that.”
Shaq, on the other hand, was less forgiving of Leonard's actions, and speculated that repercussions for the Heat role player could spread beyond his initial punishment (a $50,000 NBA fine, and a week suspension with pay from team activities).
“In an organization like the Miami Heat, which I played for, this is something they don’t really tolerate,” O'Neal said. “They’re going to have to believe that he was really sorry.”
It remains to be seen what Meyers Leonard's status will be with the Miami Heat organization going forward. To this point, Leonard has been an intriguing, low-usage prospect, with huge length (7'0) and more than serviceable shooting. And prior to this incident, Leonard had been nothing less than a low-maintenance bench mob member of the Miami Heat.
And for all we know, this incident, in light of recent social upheavals both in and out of the sports world, could be a new center for the ongoing debate on how mistakes and people are made and judged, both in and out of the world of sports. We'll have to see how it unfolds from here.