US basketball player Meyers Leonard has apologised after using an anti-Semitic slur during an online game stream.
The comment was made during a Call of Duty game on Twitch on Monday.
In an Instagram statement, Leonard said he was sorry and said he had not known what the word meant when he used it.
His team has criticised the player and said he will be “away from the team indefinitely”. They also pledged to co-operate with a National Basketball Association (NBA) investigation.
“The Miami Heat vehemently condemns the use of any form of hate speech,” the team said in a statement. “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.”
An NBA spokesman said the league “unequivocally condemns” hate speech and said they were gathering information.
Controversy over the comments grew on Tuesday after a clip from the Call Of Duty: Warzone Twitch stream began to widely circulate on social media.
It showed Leonard, 29, using the slur while calling another player a “coward” for trying to kill his character.
The player then said he was “deeply sorry” in an Instagram post.
“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,” he wrote, before promising to seek better education on the matter and “do better”.
Leonard made his NBA debut in 2012, after being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers.
He was traded to the Miami Heat in 2019 and is currently out injured after undergoing shoulder surgery last month.
He is known to be an avid online gamer and has tens of thousands of followers on the Twitch platform.
E-sports organisation FaZe Clan said it was “cutting ties” with him on Tuesday and a number of other gaming companies, including Astro Gaming and Origin PC, have also severed their relationships.