Rabbi who helped Meyers Leonard after he used antisemitic slur: ‘Judaism is about 2nd chances’

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After Meyers Leonard was heard using a horrific antisemitic slur during a video game stream in 2021, he took the opportunity to learn about the magnitude of his mistake and grow as a person.

The former Miami Heat center found ways to make a positive impact on the Jewish community in the aftermath of his mistake, and years later, he’s still doing just that.

Rabbi Pinny Andrusier of the Chabad of Southwest Broward was there for Leonard after he said the hurtful slur. It seems like Andrusier has lots of respect for Leonard.

“Judaism is about second chances,” Andrusier told the Sun Sentinel when speaking of Leonard. “We have Yom Kippur once a year.”

Yom Kippur is the religion’s Day of Atonement.

“But our prayers, for those unfamiliar, every single morning we acknowledge that during this day, in the morning since last night, in the afternoon since this morning, we might have done something to offend a fellow person or God,” Andrusier said. “We’re always asking for forgiveness.”

Andrusier spoke about the way Leonard came to him after his mistake in 2021.

“As soon as it happened, he was at my house for the first Friday night to share his side of the story,” Andrusier said. “And what I was always most impressed with is he never denied, he never made excuses. He owned up to it. I sincerely believe that he didn’t even realize what he said was an anti-Semitic remark. But the moment he learned and discovered that it was offensive to the Jews, he immediately owned up to it and was sincerely apologetic.”

When Leonard was heard using the antisemitic slur in 2021, it did a number on his NBA career. Now, he’s back in the league, but he doesn’t have any plans of ending his journey with the Jewish community. In his eyes, it’s a “lifelong thing.”

“It’s not like a check the box and move on for me, at all,” Leonard said. “It is very much a lifelong thing for me.”

Poetically, Leonard’s first playoff series in the NBA since his mistake is against the Heat, the team that moved on from him following the incident. Leonard’s Milwaukee Bucks have championship aspirations this season, but in order to realize them, they’re going to need to get past the Heat.

In the 2022-23 regular season, the 31-year-old appeared in nine games for Milwaukee, averaging 4.8 points and 3.8 boards per contest. It’s unclear if he’s going to get much playing time during his team’s postseason run.

The Bucks and Heat are currently tied 1-1 in their best-of-seven series. Game 3 of the battle will take place on Saturday night in Miami.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.