UPDATE 2.9.14: Marcus Smart has been suspended for the next 3 games.
“I want to apologize to the fan, whose name is Jeff Orr, I want to apologize to him, my teammates, my coach,” Smart said at a press conference “This is not how I condone myself. I just can’t let that happen again. It’s a lesson I’ll have to learn from. It’s all upon me. I truly apologize to all those that are important to me. I feel I let my teammates down.”
“I know Marcus Smart. I’ve been around him pretty much on a daily basis for two years, and undoubtedly, no question, was not one of his finer moments,” Coach Travis Ford said. “But Marcus Smart has had many great moments as a person, as a player, and I know Marcus Smart’s heart. I know how he’s hurting. I know how regretful he is right now. Those are the things that make me love Marcus Smart. Marcus knows he made a big mistake last night.”
As for what Orr said to Smart. The initial reports we heard the night of the event was Orr called him a “thug nigger” but by the end of the next day, everybody from ESPN to BSO to Fox Sports were saying he told Smart “to go back to Africa.” Orr continues to deny anything racist was said.
“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.”
In this GoPro video posted by Texas Tech, you can hear somebody saying “piece of crap” but it’s unclear if the “piece of crap fan” said it. Orr also said he will not attend any of the remaining Texas Tech games this season.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE 2.8.14
We have known and been filming and putting out videos of Oklahoma State’s All-American guard and future NBA lottery pick Marcus Smart for years and I am not condoning his actions from Saturday night at all but just stating that we think he is a good kid and his behavior, to us, seemed out of character.
Who we don’t know personally is Texas Tech “fan” Jeff Orr. What I do know is that he’s an older white male, known for heckling players, that yelled something at Marcus Smart, who fell into the crowd seconds before the final buzzer of a 65-61 loss, that upset him enough to turn around, get up, confront Orr and then push him before walking back on the court.
What could possibly be said during all of the noise and commotion to stand out enough to make Smart react that way? A lot of people are just calling Smart a “frustrated sore loser” that overreacted but we were told by people in attendance that he called Smart a “thug nigger.” Orr denies that he called him the “N-word” or said anything “racist” but did say he was sorry for what he said.
Smart was given a tech but not ejected from the game but will most likely face a suspension for his actions.
Again, I’m not trying to justify his actions but what bothers me the most about this story is not his actions but fans that believe they have a right to yell and verbally abuse students and professionals just because they bought a ticket and then leagues, owners, administrations, etc that are not doing what I consider is enough to protect their players from fans like this.
Via Roger Groves of Forbes on fans and the safety of players,
One part of the solution is to finally move the fandom away from the court. That goes for the cameras too. It has long bothered me that we risk injuries to players just so the school can squeeze in a few more dollars or the network can get a little tighter shot of the gladiators. Both are done for one reason and one reason only – money. The college administrations that claim to care about the students first have a hard time explaining why an extra 3 foot buffer should not exist. Simply put, in an era of multi-million dollar arenas and multimillion dollar athletic budgets, the players who generate the money should not have to risk physical or verbal abuse for the sake, ironically, of money.
The answer is sanctions against the fan – loss of the privilege to attend future games and a lighter wallet. A fan can streak naked across the court or football field for fun without taunting anyone and incur such a loss. Why not punish the fan for incendiary hate speech at a vital part of the game itself? In other words, come down as hard as you want against Smart, but if the fan goes beyond the bounds of decency and there is no adverse consequence commensurate with the gravity of the bad act, this rare moment could become more frequent. That’s a game in which no one wins. And the college game itself losses.
We are those “cameras too” at sporting events and I am more than happy to move back if it is for the safety of the players but I have a feeling “super fans” like Orr wouldn’t want to sit further back or have to censor himself because he spent his “good hard earned money” for a good seat in a multi-million dollar arena where he is free to curse and make obscene gestures at players.
Like this in 2010…
Or like this 4 years later…