Don't Kill The Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

On Marcus Smart and an idiot

02/10/2014 11:21 AM

02/10/2014 11:21 AM

There are much bigger, and much more important things going on in sports right now but Marcus Smart shoving a fan

the other day in Lubbock shouldn’t be forgotten.

And not because Smart is tracking to lead future stories about the risks of high draft picks returning to school.

And not because the referees somehow, bizarrely, only assessed a technical foul instead of ejecting Smart for shoving a pest of a Texas Tech fan named Jeff Orr.

And not because the Big 12 suspended Smart three games, and Oklahoma State did the right thing allowing/making Smart apologize publicly on Sunday but stopped short of allowing/making him answer questions.

Smart is the one who the story revolves around, the one potentially losing draft position and money from this (and a much more minor incident when he kicked a chair on his team’s sideline during a win at home over West Virginia a few weeks ago) and, most importantly in the eyes of the NBA, a season in which he hasn’t performed as well as expected and his team has now lost four of five.

All of those things are true, and all of those things have already been plenty covered.

Me, I won’t remember the other day in Lubbock for Smart shoving a fan. I’ll remember it for a grown man baiting a 19-year-old kid in the heat of competition. I’ll remember it for an adult — one lauded on

Texas Tech’s official website as "the Red Raiders’ No. 1 fan," one who only a few games ago gestured at an opposing player and may or may not have shouted racist slurs in the past

— issuing a public statement that he only called a college basketball player a "piece of crap."

Even if you believe that, c’mon.

In the beautiful chaos of competition, we all can lose our cool. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean, sometimes we do things we later regret.

Smart is the one with an NBA career in front of him, so when he hears taunts and slurs on the court — and there’s no question those will only increase now — he has much more to lose than the insurance salesman on the other end.

Part of being a public figure is that your weakest moments are amplified, just as your strongest ones are. This is the world that Smart is entering, and he will be well compensated for his troubles.

But there should be a way for Orr to be punished, too, for being a grown man promoted on the school’s official website and conducting himself like a high school sophomore. Volunteering to stay away from the rest of Tech’s games is a laughable consequence, one that will allow Orr to stay away from the shame he’s earned as much as "punish" him.


it’s not just Orr


Fans should be loud and they should be proud. They should be catered to by schools and franchises, and they should be cherished by the athletes and coaches they root for. They should be recognized as the lifeblood that makes this whole sports machine go.

But when they act like idiots, they should be recognized for that, too.


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