Meyers Leonard, a towering 7-footer, is returning to the NBA after a two-year hiatus following his use of an antisemitic slur while playing a video game.
The Milwaukee Bucks have signed Leonard to a 10-day contract, making it official on Wednesday after ESPN first reported on the team’s plans to do so.
The decision to sign Leonard is not without controversy. In March 2021, the Miami Heat suspended Leonard for one week and fined him $50,000 after he uttered an offensive comment during a live stream of the video game Call of Duty.
The Heat also stated that Leonard would be required to undergo cultural sensitivity training before returning to the team. However, Leonard did not play another game for the Heat and became a free agent after the season.
The Bucks, who won the NBA Championship last season, are currently in third place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 32-20. They are looking to add depth to their roster for the rest of the season, and the addition of Leonard could provide them with an experienced big man who can shoot from outside.
Leonard, a former lottery pick, has had a career marred by injuries and inconsistency. He played for the Portland Trail Blazers and the Heat before his suspension, averaging 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game over his career. Leonard will be hoping to make the most of this opportunity with the Bucks and prove that he can still contribute to an NBA team.
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The signing of Leonard also raises questions about the NBA’s approach to player behavior and the impact that off-court incidents can have on a player’s career. While the Bucks have not condoned Leonard’s past actions, they have deemed him fit to play for their team, and it remains to be seen how fans and other teams will react to his return to the court.