Ok State point guard Marcus Smart has seen his fortunes go from sugar to sh*t faster than any black man not named Charles Ramsey. Last spring Smart was lauded for passing up the potetial of being the #1 overall pick in the NBA draft to return to college for another year of seasoning. NBA Analysts thought he was a fool, College Basketball purists thought he was living proof that some people value the college experience over a quick buck. As an NBA fan, I sided with the former: no matter how cool college is, you always strike when your stock is highest.
Smart's season hasn't gone as planned. His team has underachieved, his game has regressed, and after this weekend's incident, his stock is likely in freefall.
Personally, I was a bit shocked Smart got off with just a 3 game suspension. I was pretty damn sure he'd be kicked off the team, and wouldn't have objected if the school had done that. You can't just go around shoving boosters, no matter how obnoxious they might be. These are the rules. Of course, the school is in the business of making money, so, yeah... see you in 3 games, Marcus. Lay off the caffeiene while you're at it.
All that said, the media's attention on Smart, versus the asshole fan who shouted whatever he shouted at him was pretty revealing. Are we really asking 19 year olds to put up with (
What's really sickening is Texas Tech's insistence that the crazy fan in question, Jeff Orr, didn't say anything that could have presumably set off the teenager, even going as far as to release a Zapruder film-level video of the incident.
Whether or not Smart was called a nigger isn't the issue here. The issue is, why would a grown man call a 19 year old a piece of crap under any circumstances, let alone a basketball game? Any why is the burden of controlling ones emotions squarely on the shoulders of Smart? Does Orr think he can just hurl insults at a 6-4, 225 point man and not get his ass whipped? Would he do that anywhere other than from the sanctity of his expensive courtside seats? Would he say that to Smart if he ran into him at Target? I doubt it.
While Texas Tech and Orr came to a PR-friendly resolution, Smart's facing an uphill battle to regain his footing with pro sports. Which is why he is ultimately the the person most wrong here. Because he had much more to lose than Orr, who didn't even lose his tickets.
Keep your head up, Marcus Smart. And keep your mouth shut, Jeff Orr.
Question: What's your read on this story? Where's the line between casual fan trash talk and verbal assault on a party that can't retaliate?