NBA Player Drops Anti-Semitic Slur During Call Of Duty: Warzone Stream [Update]

NBA Player Drops Anti-Semitic Slur During Call Of Duty: Warzone Stream [Update]
Photo: Michael Reaves, Getty Images
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Miami Heat centre and FaZe Clan member Meyers Leonard apparently hates being sniped in Call of Duty: Warzone, so much so that he referred to a long-range online opponent as a “kike bitch” during a Twitch session Monday night.

As first noted by sports blog Defector, that particular stream archive doesn’t appear on Leonard’s channel, but as is often the case, the internet never forgets.

Leonard picked up streaming this afternoon before being inundated with questions about the slur. He eventually cut the broadcast short to “hang” with his wife.

Drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012 before being traded to the Heat before the 2019 season, Leonard diversified during the covid-19 pandemic by joining the esports and online content creation organisation FaZe Clan.

During his time with the NBA, Leonard drew criticism for another racially insensitive action. He was the only player to remain standing during an August 2020 game against the Denver Nuggets while both teams knelt in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, according to ESPN. Leonard said his decision came out of respect for the U.S. military and his brother, who is a Marine.

While supposedly a more progressive space than other sports, this isn’t the first controversy of its kind for the NBA. When NFL receiver Desean Jackson made his own anti-Semitic remarks last year, former NBA player Stephen Jackson publicly agreed with them before apologizing. The rest of the league was criticised for its silence on the matter.

Leonard has yet to address Monday night’s heated gamer moment.

UPDATE: FaZe Clan has issued the following statement.

(AU Editor’s Note: FaZe said Meyers was not a member of the clan, despite the player announcing that he was joining FaZe as an investor and content creator in June 2019.)

UPDATE #2: Leonard has now issued an apology, saying he is “deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur” and somehow claiming that “I didn’t know what the word meant at the time”.

Comments

  • Well I guess I have to go look up what kike means on my phone since the article reporting on the event decided no reference or context was warranted. Good job.

    Also, it’s also time to stop dragging people over the kneeling thing. If it’s forced, it means nothing. Respect those who wish to kneel for their beliefs and respect those who don’t for their reasons. I don’t get the love Americans have for the army but his reason to stand is just as valid as his team mates are to kneel.

      • The source of the term is uncertain, but the Encyclopedia of Swearing stated the most reasonable and most likely origin of the term is the one proposed by Leo Rosten,[3] according to whom:

        The word kike was born on Ellis Island when there were Jewish migrants who were also illiterate (or could not use Latin alphabet letters). When asked to sign the entry-forms with the customary “X”, the Jewish immigrants would refuse, because they associated an X with the cross of Christianity. Instead, they drew a circle as the signature on the entry-forms. The Yiddish word for “circle” is kikel (pronounced KY – kel), and for “little circle”, kikeleh. Before long the immigration inspectors were calling anyone who signed with an ‘O’ instead of an ‘X’ a kikel or kikeleh or kikee or, finally and succinctly, kike.”

        I just copy+pasted from Wikipedia

          • Nah all g.

            Was just adding that II got it from the world’s most reliable source of info and didn’t change a word lol

          • That same entry also adds:

            Because many Russian [Jewish] names ended in ‘ki’, they were called ‘kikes’—a German Jewish contribution to the American vernacular. The name then proceeded to be co-opted by non-Jews as it gained prominence in its usage in society, and was later used as a general derogatory slur.”

            Compounding the mysterious origin of this term, in 1864 in the UK the word ike or ikey was used as a derogatory term for Jews, which derived from the name “Isaac”, a common Jewish name.

            So it’s been considered a racial slur for over 150 years. I can understand why the original report wouldn’t have gotten into the etymology of the word, because it’s been known as a slur for a very long time. The same Encyclopaedia of Swearing quoted earlier also says the term was “primarily [used] by Jewish-Americans to put down Jewish immigrants”, which is a whole can of worms not worth opening in the comments section.

            But you can see why some context isn’t necessarily a good thing for a news report. By just opening the door slightly, there’s this whole other background of history that has be explained. And by that stage you’ve written 300-600 words on the history of a word, and you’ve completely steered away from what the actual news was in the first place.

            There’s also a very genuine ethical argument on whether we should be devoting any time and real estate to the discussion of a racial slur that has been accepted as a hugely offensive term for over a century. Is it worth doing that work for those who might not have known the term before — or is that process insensitive enough to Jewish people, and already better covered elsewhere on the internet, that a video game website should let people search for that info themselves?

            Anyway, that’s some of my thinking on it.

            Re. @cmac — so in this case, I don’t think so. But also if there are instances where we can add more context into an article, we have to think about whether that time isn’t better served either writing a second piece, covering something that’s missing on the site, moderating comments, legwork for future features/reporting, and so on. It’s not as simple an equation as it might seem, especially when it’s just me and Leah doing all the local work (with some freelance help on occasion).

          • I’m one of the people who had no idea what it meant. I’ve heard “Zionist” be thrown around as a slur at random Jewish professors when I was at university, but never seen/heard the one in the article in Australia.

          • Zionist isn’t a slur, it’s just someone who believes in and/or promotes a Jewish homeland in Israel. Some people don’t like Zionism as this aspiration is arguably inconsistent with similar aspirations from Palestinians. Not liking someone’s opinions, however, is not the same thing as using a word as a slur.

          • “There’s also a very genuine ethical argument on whether we should be devoting any time and real estate to the discussion of a racial slur that has been accepted as a hugely offensive term for over a century.”

            Just on that part Alex, I think it is indeed a worthwhile investment. You only need to look at the hoo-haa that was caused around Coon cheese, and the fact that the company was essentially bullied, in the social space, by ill-informed outrage “activists”. It is literally someone’s surname

            Sure, maybe not a gaming website… But still

          • ‘Coon’ was most certainly used as slur when I was at school, and indeed the name of the cheese often resulted in sniggers around my playground. There’s literally no mystery there, and nor is there any mystery about why it is being changed.

            It would be no different if a loaf of N*****-brand bread happened to have originally been first baked by Sir Reginald Oesophagus N***** in Ireland in 1876.

            And the actual relationship between an obscure American early-20th century cheese maker and an Australian-exclusive brand first used nearly 50 years later is a pretty tenuous one, and most certainly doesn’t represent any kind of meaningful historical relationship other than it must have appealed to someone in the Kraft Corporation marketing department at the time.

        • Angora, it was definitely used as a slur when I went to university, usually followed by some choice Holocaust denial along with “maybe we can justify the Jewish genocide since the Palestinians wouldn’t be oppressed”. It was used as a slur, even if it wasn’t intended to be used in that manner by origin. Anti-Jewish sentiment was alive and well during my education and it wasn’t coming from the right wingers.

  • @Alex Walker

    Out of curiosity, and apologies if it has been asked before, but are you allowed to edit US articles when they are reposted on the AU site? As has been mentioned many times in the comments, the quality of AU articles are far superior to the US ones and wondered if the reposts could be improved with some additional information like the one above.

    • I couldn’t disagree more strongly. The American articles are generally of high quality, with a few filler articles that are perfectly fine as written but otherwise disposable.

      The idea that the American articles might be improved with some light editing is frankly offensive. I’m sure the authors would be thrilled to hear that the Australians have been giving their work a light touch-up with a bit of ‘additional information’.

      In reality your only real objection is that the American articles often include some kind of political wrong-think, and you’d prefer if someone else took responsibility for toning down the objectionable bits so that you don’t have to grapple with reading anything you might find mildly confronting or have to think too hard about.

      Still, I do hear that there are quite a few experienced censors in China right now. Maybe suggest to Alex that he consider wrangling one of them a 457 visa, eh?

      • Well this one was improved!

        (AU Editor’s Note: FaZe said Meyers was not a member of the clan, despite the player announcing that he was joining FaZe as an investor and content creator in June 2019.)

  • WTH at this guy saying he didn’t know what that slur meant. He is in the USA and also playing professional basketball which is stereotypically quite popular with Jewish sports fans. I have Jewish heritage (but I’m not a “real” Jew as it is not on my mother’s side) so maybe I have more experience in knowing of the term but I am actually a bit surprised that it was not a known term in Australia judging by the comments. But it is the same as saying the N word just not also reappropriated by the Jewish community. It is only ever used in a racially negative way towards Jews. Regardless of how it may have been 150 years ago a Jewish person will never say that word towards another.

    As for zionists, that isn’t a blanket term for Jewish people either. You get Jewish Zionist’s but not all Jews are zionists and not all Israelis are zionists. The Anne frank org sums it up a bit better

    “ To cut a long story short: although many Jews identify with Zionism, there are still many different points of view. That is reason enough not to mix up the words ‘Jew’, ‘Israelis’ and ‘Zionists”

    As for the holocaust, Not all Germanic Jews went to form the Israel state after the war. And the Jewish people had already been living all over the modern world for centuries before the state existed or the holocaust.

    • The only Jewish people I’ve met (or even known they were Jewish for that matter) was when I saw Jewish professors and students being harassed under the default assumption by wankers that they hated Palestinians (universities have been a train wreck for the last decade or more), hence the term Zionist being used derogatorily. Even then the word under discussion of the article didn’t crop up. While I can assume from the context it’s an insult, I’ve never heard it used during my lifetime within Australia and until I read the comments, had no idea what it actually meant.

      • Damn, what’s the deal with that sort of thing in university then. I suppose that may explain a bit more some of the neo-nazi stuff around Melb uni’s the past couple of years.

        I suppose it also depends on where you are in Aus. There is a large Jewish community in Melbourne. It is not out of the norm to see people wearing a Kippah on the tram or in the suburbs.

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