Meyers Leonard Deserves To Play In The NBA Again After Kyrie Was Essentially Given A Pass

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Meyers Leonard is back in the NBA, and that’s exactly where he belongs.

The former Miami Heat center is signing a 10-day deal with the Milwaukee Bucks after not playing since uttering a racial slur in 2021.

While playing a video game on a stream, Leonard used an anti-Semitic term he later claimed he didn’t know the meaning of.

“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,” Leonard said in a statement shortly after the incident.

However, apologizing wasn’t nearly enough to appease the mob. Meyers, who was 29 at the time of the incident, was banned from team activities, eventually traded then released and hasn’t played a minute of NBA action since.

Now, he’s back. And it’s where he belongs.

Meyers Leonard deserves a second chance.

Let me be crystal clear. I’m not defending Meyers Leonard using an anti-Semitic slur on a stream. Not at all. I, much like other people, think anti-Semitism and any other form of bigotry or racism is disgusting.

I don’t know if he truly knew what the word meant. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. What I know beyond any shadow of a doubt is we all need to learn to show more mercy and grace. We all need to remember people make mistakes, mess up and need second chances.

That’s what should have happened at the time in 2021. To his credit, Julian Edelman was one of the few people who actually spoke up in the name of education instead of just piling on with the rest of the mob.

What Leonard said was offensive and stupid, but was it worthy of a career death sentence? Should he never be able to play basketball again over a single sentence?

The answer is no. Nobody’s mind grows by being shouted down, shamed and treated like an outcast. People only grow bitter and more entrenched when that happens.

Meyers Leonhard returns to the NBA after racial slur incident. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Kyrie Irving’s treatment is much different than what Meyers went through.

The sad reality is the NBA actually appears to be willing to tolerate a lot of racism as long as you’re talented enough.

How do we know this? Kyrie Irving was given pass after pass for his insane decision to promote an anti-Semitic film before eventually being hit with a short suspension by the Nets and having to issue an apology.

Infamously, Kyrie Irving claimed he couldn’t “be anti-Semitic if I know where I come from,” which appeared to be a reference to an anti-Semitic claim and conspiracy theory that the real Jewish people are Africans.

When he was traded to the Mavericks, he deleted his apology for sharing anti-Semitic content. So, not only is anti-Semitism tolerated, you don’t even have to pretend to be sorry if you’re Kyrie Irving. You can promote an anti-Semitic film and as soon as you’re traded, wipe any reference to an apology for doing so.

Did Meyers Leonard or Kyrie Irving do more damage?

Ask yourself a very simple question. Which is more threatening and disturbing: A man making a stupid comment while playing video games or a guy using his giant platform as an NBA star to promote the idea Jews are somehow less than the rest of us? The film Kyrie promoted features (almost certainly) quotes attributed to Hitler about Jews, according to the ADL.

The film also promotes the idea the history of the Holocaust was changed in order to benefit Jewish people. Reminder: roughly six million people were slaughtered during the Holocaust and the walls of Auschwitz still stand as a reminder of what happens when hate goes unchecked.

Again, who should we really be offended by? Meyers Leonard for making a stupid comment or Kyrie Irving who doesn’t seem to give a damn.

Kyrie Irving promoted an anti-Semitic film. He later deleted an apology. Meyers Leonard was treated much differently. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

And, I’m not even arguing Kyrie Irving should be banned for years. He’s clearly a very ignorant man who should speak with some people capable of educating him. It’s just curious why the NBA and fans are willing to tolerate his egregious behavior while treating Leonard like a rabid racist.

We all deserve second chances, and Leonard’s crime of uttering a racial slur doesn’t even come close to scratching what the NBA is openly willing to tolerate. When confronted with ignorance, choose grace, mercy, compassion and education over outrage and cancelation efforts. It will take you a lot further than shouting people down.

Written by David Hookstead

David Hookstead is a reporter for OutKick covering a variety of topics with a focus on football and culture.

He also hosts of the podcast American Joyride that is accessible on Outkick where he interviews American heroes and outlines their unique stories. Before joining OutKick, Hookstead worked for the Daily Caller for seven years covering similar topics.

Hookstead is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

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