The Big 12 has reigned down its punishment on Marcus Smart for pushing a fan who was assumed to have hurled a racial slur his way. The melee occurred shortly after he went flying into the crowd following a blocked shot during the closing seconds of Saturday’s loss against Texas Tech.
He will be suspended for the Cowboys’ next three games, but still be allowed to practice.
Jeff Orr, the fan whom Smart shoved with force, denied calling the 19-year-old sophomore the N-word or any other bit of color commentary, but did admit to saying he was “a piece of crap” during their brief exchange.
Smart took the moment to show some maturity in his time of embarrassment.
“I want to apologize to the fan, whose name is Jeff Orr. I want to apologize to him. I want to apologize to my teammates, to my coaching staff, Coach Ford, my family, Oklahoma State University. This is not how I [conduct] myself, this is not how this program is ran. This is not how I was raised. I let my emotions get the best of me.
“Just can’t let that happen again. This is a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it, I’m taking full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all upon me.
Texas Tech conducted its own investigation of the altercation that said no racial slur was heard. In a statement released through the school, Orr denied using a slur and said he was sorry for calling Smart “piece of crap.”
“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,” Orr said in a statement. “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.”
Orr volunteered not to attend any Texas Tech games for the rest of the season, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
Former Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said Orr was “a great guy” but a couple of former players within the conference remember differently. Utah Jazz guard John Lucas III posted his unfavorable memories of Orr on his Twitter account after seeing video of the incident.
Watch the video of Smart’s press conference below.