Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Sports

Marcus Smart suspended for shoving fan Jeff Orr

STILLWATER, Okla. — Marcus Smart was quiet and subdued as he apologized at a podium Sunday, a stark contrast to his demeanor the previous night that sent shock waves through Oklahoma State's basketball program.

Smart was suspended three games by the Big 12 for confronting and shoving a fan in the stands near the end of a loss at Texas Tech. The conference cited "inappropriate conduct with a spectator."

Smart, 19, apologized to self-described "super fan'' Jeff Orr — who has been trying to rile opposing players for years and is seen in a video making a vulgar gesture to a Texas A&M player in 2010 — his teammates and his family. Cowboys coach Travis Ford expressed support for the sophomore guard without dismissing the severity of his actions.

"This is not how I conduct myself," said Smart, a top NBA prospect. "This is not how the program is run. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me. It's something I'll have to learn from, a lesson I'll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it — I'm taking full responsibility. No fingers pointing — this is all upon me."

Smart fell behind the basket, was helped up, confronted a standing Orr, then shoved him with two hands after it appeared Orr said something to him. Orr did not fall. Teammates pulled Smart away as he pointed back and shouted in Orr's direction.

Smart will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor, returning Feb. 22.

Reports throughout Sunday had radio broadcasters overhearing Smart say Orr used a racial slur. Texas Tech said it conducted an investigation, interviewing fans, photographers and arena personnel, and concluded no racial slur was made. Orr also denied making a racial slur.

Orr, an air-traffic controller in Waco who once logged 32,000 miles traveling to Red Raider basketball games in one season, agreed not to attend Texas Tech games for the remainder of the season.

Orr apologized to Smart, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith and Red Raiders basketball program, calling his actions inappropriate: "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."

USF coach Stan Heath's take: "It was a very unfortunate incident. I applaud Marcus Smart for stepping up immediately and apologizing and accepting responsibility. Hopefully this is also a wakeup call for a small percentage of fans who cross the line with personal comments to student-athletes."

Orr, a 1983 Tech graduate who's described on a school website as the basketball team's No. 1 fan, was criticized by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, who tweeted: "Guy involved in the Smart situation is NOT a fan as HE IS Classless." Vitale also tweeted that Orr's seats should be moved away from the court, "but I want to make it clear, Smart had no right to place his hands on Orr."

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.

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