There is a time to respond to something. There is a time to restrain from doing something. Both of those statements collided in last night’s Oklahoma State-Texas Tech men’s basketball game.
During the waning moments of the game, Oklahoma State do-it-all guard Marcus Smart fell into a crowd under the basket after fouling a Texas Tech player on a breakaway layup. As Smart was about to turn and walk back onto the court, a Texas Tech fan shouted something to Smart – which caused Smart to stay in the crowd.
What Smart did next was not so smart: he shoved the middle-aged fan in the chest before being restrained and ushered back onto the court by his teammates.
Look, I agree that Smart should have put his hands on that fan – no matter what the fan said. It is a no-win situation where the player would have much more to lose and next to nothing to gain. It’s kinda like a celebrity dealing with a member of the paparazzi. If the celebrity sees that the paparazzi dude keeps hanging around and goading him, and said celebrity snaps and beats the hell out of the paparazzi, guess who comes away looking worse? The celebrity.
However, there is something that needs to be said concerning fan decency or lack thereof. Jeff Orr, the Texas Tech fan who almost incited an on-court riot with Smart, later admitted “I kinda let my mouth say something I shouldn’t have, I feel bad”. So if the fan in question admitted that he said something stupid, I am almost afraid of finding out just what was said.
Was it something racist? Something about Smart’s family? I dunno, but it was apparently serious enough for Smart to put his hands on him.
I think there needs to be a point where fans should be dealt consequences for their actions during sporting events – especially when it comes to fan interactions with athletes. Just because fans pays certain amount of money for tickets, doesn’t give them carte blanche to act a fool. If Orr did say something abusive – or worse, racist – then he should be dealt with accordingly.
UPDATE: Smart has been suspended for three games, and he has accepted his punishment like a man – and good for him. And Orr has apologized for calling Smart “a piece of crap”. Here’s more:
“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. 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.”
Thankfully Smart and that fan did the right thing and apologize. And while Smart accepted the punishment handed to him, let’s hope Orr accepts what should be (and better be) coming his way.