Here is a quick recap before you see the clip endlessly regurgitated on Sports Center: Off of a turnover on Oklahoma State's side of the court, a Texas Tech player had a wide open fast break dunk, which Smart broke up with a hard foul.
After fouling the Texas Tech player, Smart landed in the primary wave of spectators which is usually filled by camera men. According to Smart, while he was getting up from his fall, he was attacked via a racial slur by a large, old, white man. Smart got up, walked right over to the fan in the stands, and gave him a solid shove. Smart exited the stands and received a simple technical foul. He was not ejected from the game.
Some may call it a frustration move by Smart, since Oklahoma State was a mere 6.2 seconds away from losing another game to an un-ranked opponent in an overall disappointing season for the team.
Before I lay down my opinion on the extremely polarizing topic, I want to address a few things to clarify the details for everyone.
Who was this Texas Tech fan, and why would a guy like Marcus Smart, who possesses zero previous large character lapses, risk a potential suspension and harm to his NBA draft stock by reacting to this man?
The fan has been identified as Jeff Orr, a Texas Tech super-fan who has a history with getting into arguments with opposing players and fans. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the man went out of his way to spew every racial slur and derogatory comment towards Marcus Smart, which according to the 19 year-old is exactly what happened in that heated moment.
I have no doubt that we will hear about the developing details of the story in days to come.
Now that I have laid down all of the known details for this particular incident, my stance remains the same as it did last night when I watched the play happen on live television. It does not matter what that fan says to you, you never lay your hands on a guy in the stands.
This story was a tough one for me to swallow. I have watched Marcus Smart consistently during his career with Oklahoma State and marveled at his athleticism and streaks of pure greatness. He always came off as a leader, as someone with thick skin, and who could shake adversity when he needed to.
I'm not saying Marcus Smart is not still a good kid with a bright future, but I am saying that this incident does not look good for him for a number of reasons.
Quite frankly, it really does not matter to me what that fan said. I assumed when the story broke that the man had said something racist to Smart, judging off of his heated and intensely enraged reaction. I am extremely sensitive to the nature of racial slurs and I understand the profound impact they can have, but Marcus you have to shake that off in that particular scenario.
Who is the youthful, athletic, 19 year-old college basketball player is surely going to get drafted into the National Basketball Association? Who has everything to lose by getting into a confrontation that receives national exposure? I'll tell you one thing, it certainly isn't the overweight, old white dude who spit out the assumed racial slur.
It's you, Marcus. You have to be bigger than that in those heated moments. From what I read, he checks Twitter to read what fans and haters are saying about him on a weekly basis. You think this is the last time in his life he will deal with a fan shouting racial slurs at him? Absolutely not. Especially now that it is clear to fans that they can get a reaction out of him, they will be as relentless as possible going forward.
Best case scenario in that situation, Smart identifies the man who is spewing profanities at him, tells a member of the security personnel, exposes him in the post-game press conference and walks away a hero- leaving Texas Tech to handle the negative publicity. However with his heated emotional and physical reaction, his actions can only be deemed as "justifiable" at best.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I do not doubt for a second that Smart regrets giving in to the heat of the moment, but he will ultimately be the one who suffers the consequences of this whole incident. I would expect him to receive a deserved 1-2 game suspension and for this to be a smudge on his resume at the NBA Draft, which could potential hurt his stock.
At the end of the day I do sympathize with Marcus Smart and I find racial slurs to be disgusting in any circumstance. Regardless, he should have never physically confronted the man and he will pay for doing so.
Justified or not, all actions have consequences.