Meyers Leonard did a bad thing. But the franchise that used to employ him might have done something even worse.
By now, we’re all aware of what happened. Leonard directed an antisemitic remark towards another player while playing Call of Duty — a remark that doesn’t need to be repeated here. Or ever again.
He was subsequently suspended and fined $50,000 by the NBA. Yes, the incident happened away from the court and the team. But this still feels like a feathery light slap on the wrist.
The suspension means very little given that he’s already sidelined for the season after shoulder surgery. And I know $50,000 is the maximum that the NBA can fine a player, but it just doesn’t sit right that Raptors coach Nick Nurse was fined the same amount for throwing his mask and shouting at a ref. Nurse shouldn’t have done what he did. But for him to receive the same fine as someone who vomited up a derogatory term for Jewish people is a joke.
But okay — a suspension and a $50,000 haircut it is.
So how did the Miami Heat react to their player’s disgusting comments? As any franchise should. The Heat announced that he would be away from the team indefinitely and released the following as part of their statement:
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech. 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.”
Wow. What upstanding pillars of the community they are. Good for them for setting the right example for every other franchise and person on this planet. #HeatCulture all the way. Right?
Well, no. Not at all, actually. And here’s why.
They signed and continue to employ Kendrick Nunn
For those of you who aren’t aware, in May 2016, Nunn was sent packing by the University of Illinois after pleading guilty to domestic battery. He had been charged with hitting a woman, pushing her to the floor and then pouring water on her.
So on the one hand, they’re saying under no circumstances do we tolerate hateful language, especially not from someone associated with our franchise. No sir. Not here. But on the other hand, they’re saying we welcome domestic abusers to our team. As long as you can help us win, we don’t care what you did.
Talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth. If what Nunn did was more publicized and splashed all over social media, perhaps only then would the Heat want nothing to do with Nunn.
They’re profiting off Meyers Leonard
Again, the Miami Heat are saying one thing, but doing another. The franchise vehemently condemns the use of hate speech. But they seem perfectly fine with using the player who uttered said hate speech in a trade to better their team and line their pockets.
The only reason Trevor Ariza is a member of the Heat is because the front office used Leonard as a trade chip. The team is clearly hoping that Ariza can recapture his highly-effective 3 and D form to help push them towards another NBA Finals run. And the deeper they go into the playoffs thanks in part to Ariza, the more they’ll be profiting off of Leonard — both team success-wise and bank account-wise.
The Heat’s top brass, which includes well-respected NBA lifer Pat Riley, could’ve released Leonard or just continued to keep him away from the team. But they didn’t. Instead they chose to treat him like an asset for the betterment of the franchise.
I’m curious as to why this isn’t a bigger story? Why hasn’t #HeatCulture taken a bigger hit? I can’t be the only one who’s picked up on the Heat’s blatant hypocrisy. Has this past year made everyone so numb that something like this barely even registers? Is it now just par for the course?
The Heat can get on their high horse and claim to take the moral high ground all they want. But their actions say something completely different. And now, to me, #HeatCulture means something completely different.
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