Oklahoma State basketball standout, Marcus Smart, will face a 3-game suspension after a tangle with Texas Tech fan. Smart said a racial slur uttered by a Texas Tech fan prompted him to shove the fan in the final seconds of the team’s 65-61 loss to the Red Rangers.
Smart flew into the Lubbock, Texas crowd after an effort to block the dunk attempt by Jaye Crockett from behind with 6.2 seconds left in Saturday’s game. In the midst of being helped to his feet, Smart seemed to have a heated verbal exchange with front row Red Raider fan, Jeff Orr, which led to Smart approaching Orr and shoving him with two hands. The push made Orr take a step back, but did not result in a fall. Immediately following the shove, Smart walked away while pointing to the fan. Smart was then issued a technical foul, but remained on the bench for the final seconds of the game.
Jeff Orr is a Waco, Texas air traffic controller and avid Red Raider fan. Texas Tech athletic department spokesman, Blayne Beal, said Orr travels thousands of miles yearly to watch the Texas Tech basketball team and that they have never had an issue with him in the past.
According to a team official, Smart alleges that Orr did provoke him with racial slurs. Oklahoma State Coach Travis Ford, did not wish to further discuss the prompting of the altercation in today’s press conference. Orr denied using a racial slur, but apologized to “Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Tubby Smith and the Texas Tech Men’s Basketball program” for inappropriate behavior at the game.
“I regret calling Mr. Smart a ‘piece of crap,’ but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind,” said Orr. Orr has reportedly volunteered not to attend any more Texas Tech basketball games for the remainder of the season.
Smart spoke in the press conference and profusely apologized to Orr and his “teammates, coaching staff, family and Oklahoma State University.” He expressed his remorse and said that this “is not how [he] was raised. Emotions got the best of [him].”
Smart takes full responsibility for his actions and accepts his 3-game suspension after the tangle with Texas Tech fan.
As of now, there is no protocol to deal with player-fan altercations in college basketball. Texas Tech does announce before every game that there is no tolerance for unsuitable fan behavior, Beal said. Texas Tech is conducting their own investigation in regards to the incident.
There has been speculation that this incident will severely hurt Smart’s promising basketball career, but Knicks forward Metta World Peace believes that this is an opportunity for Smart to learn.
World Peace changed his name from Ron Artest as an image makeover after he ran into the stands and assaulted a fan that he believed threw a beer on him. After this altercation, Artest was suspended from 73 regular-season games, as well as the playoffs and then was traded.
World Peace hopes that Smart can learn from this experience before he is in the NBA so that he can tolerate fans on the road rooting against him. He also said that Smart could and should learn to transform his anger into productivity and wins on the basketball court.
Ford echoed this statement in the press conference by saying that he needs to channel this energy into something positive and only “worry about the things that [he] can control.” Ford does not condone Smart’s reaction, but cites it as an opportunity for Smart to learn and grow. He believes that Smart suffering his 3-game suspension after tangle with Texas Tech fan will only push him to be better and will not define his career. Mike Holder, Oklahoma State athletics director, said that this was a fair punishment for Smart and in response to Smart’s apology asked, “How can you not be proud of [Marcus Smart]?”
By Rebecca Hofland