Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart became the main topic around the water cooler recently. In a loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders on February 8th, 2014, Smart went into the stands and shoved a Texas Tech fan.
It all started when Smart tried to block a dunk attempt from Red Raiders’ Jaye Crockett with 6.2 seconds to go in the game. The attempted block led to Smart stumbling out of bounds and falling down. After he was helped up, he exchanged words with the fan before lunging at him and pushing him with two hands.
The fan stumbled backwards but did not fall down.
About the Fan
The fan who Smart shoved is known as Jeff Orr, an air traffic controller from Waco, Texas who is a die-hard Red Raiders basketball fan.
According to Smart, Orr directed a racial slur at him. However, Orr claims he only called Smart a “Piece of crap.”
Apparently Orr has quite the reputation among Texas Tech faithful. Former head coach Pat Knight called him “a great guy.”
"He's one of the most loyal fans you'll ever find," Knight told ESPN about Orr. "I was shocked that he was involved. I know he's a crazy fan, a big supporter and a loyal guy, and I know him as a great guy. That's why I was so surprised."
It didn’t take the NCAA or Oklahoma State long to punish Marcus Smart for his actions. One day after the incident he was suspended for three games.
"Mr. Smart's actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference's Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. "Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated. I appreciate the efforts of Oklahoma State University athletics director Mike Holder in addressing this matter, and believe this is an appropriate response to an inappropriate action."
Marcus Smart’s Statement
In Smart’s defense, he did express remorse for his actions and he accepted the punishment. He even apologized to the fan he shoved.
"I want to apologize to the fan, whose name is Jeff Orr. I want to apologize to him. I want to apologize to my teammates, to my coaching staff, Coach Ford, my family, Oklahoma State University. This is not how I [conduct] myself, this is not how this program is ran. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me.
"Just can't let that happen again. This is a lesson I'll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it, I'm taking full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all upon me.
"I just want to really apologize to those that are very important to me. I feel like I let my teammates down. These guys mean a lot to me. Not to be able to be out there with them, it hits me in my heart. I have a lot of people that look up to me, a lot of little kids, so once again, I truly apologize. This is not me. I really do apologize for it. Like I said, I take full responsibility and the consequences that come with it."
Jeff Orr’s Statement
Orr released a statement and an apology of his own. The diehard Texas Tech fan did said his actions were inappropriate and that he’s embarrassed by them.
"I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Tubby Smith and the Texas Tech Men's Basketball program," Orr said in a statement. "My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech -- a university I love dearly. 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. Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created."
Advice for Marcus Smart
Smart has seemed to struggle with his emotions throughout his sophomore season with the Oklahoma State Cowboys. His emotions likely stem from the fact that he could have entered the NBA last year, but didn’t. And now he’s stuck on an underperforming team.
Nobody knows more about controlling his emotions than Metta World Peace, who offered some advice for Smart.
"I think that emotion and that fire could be directed towards winning on the court instead of directed other ways," World Peace said.
The New York Knicks forward believes Smart learned a great lesson and hope she will now be able to cope with the stress of being an NBA player if he decides to go pro.
"Just in general, I heard the kid is pretty good and a potential pro," World Peace said Sunday before his game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "So those types of challenges on the court when you're playing and fans are rooting against you -- that was a great lesson learned, so that hopefully when he does become a pro, he'll be able to kind of withstand the fans that are rooting against him on the road.