Nothing but net with Nick

Not Smart, but not career defining

As I sat on my couch late Saturday night, my regular viewing of SportsCenter was interrupted for what they called a breaking news story: Marcus Smart had attacked a fan.

Immediately I jolted up and sat on the edge of my seat. And yes, SportsCenter was not wrong, the Cowboys’ guard did indeed shove a fan while the game was still going on.

But almost as immediately, I began to question what provoked Smart to perform such an action.

For the two years he has been in college, Smart has been one of the most competitive guys in basketball. But he has also been one of the biggest team players and ambassadors to the game. Reporters have said he answers in a “yes sir, yes mame” kind of way. He never takes a play off, and he has truly been a role model up to this point in his career.

But here’s the background of his incident. Losing 63-61 at Texas Tech, a team the Cowboys should have manhandled, Smart committed a hard foul on a Red Raider going up for a basket. It was literally the most intense moment of the game.

Smart tumbled into the photographers right before the front row when a die-hard Texas Tech fan, Jeff Orr, said something to him, allegedly a “piece of crap.” Smart reacted viciously to it and had to be restrained by teammates on his way out the building.

Now, let me be the first to say I am not excusing Marcus Smart for his actions. Nowhere does shoving a fan fall in the code of conduct for being an NCAA basketball player.

However, we have to understand the context of that game. Oklahoma State, considered at the beginning of the year to be a national title contender, had lost three in a row and were about to lose a sub .500 Texas Tech team. Furthermore, Smart had been called out by media members earlier in the week for flopping to draw fouls, something angering him so much he responded.

Clearly, Smart was playing with emotion.

But enough about Smart. Let’s chat about Jeff Orr. According to numerous sources ranging from ESPN to Texas Tech University, Orr has seen almost every home Red Raider basketball game for years, and he has been know to yell and have rude gestures to opposing players.

Smart thought he yelled something racial, which he said caused him to react the way he did. Orr claims he didn’t, but he did yell some harsh words toward the 6-foot-7 guard.

Regardless of what was said, I think fan etiquette should be more in question than who Marcus Smart is as a human being. Just because you buy a ticket to the game, even a front row ticket, doesn’t give you free grounds to be a moron. It’s fair to have some friendly trash talk, like saying how much better your team is or how your player is better than the other team’s best player.

But when you start attacking a 20-year-old kid personally, then it draws a huge line. Let’s remember who the adult is in this situation. And how easy is it to blame the young athlete? Very easy.

Personally, I hope Orr is never allowed back at another Texas Tech sporting event. He embarrassed the school, college basketball as well as Marcus Smart.

If you’re still not convinced Smart is a good person, check out this video from his coach, Travis Ford, in a presser Sunday night. Look at the emotion, hear it in his voice.

Smart and everybody else knows he made a huge mistake Saturday night. But do not define Marcus Smart as a thug. He is a great ambassador for the game of basketball, and I hope he makes some NBA team very happy in the near future.