Apologies were offered by both sides on Sunday, less than a day after Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart pushed Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr toward the end of a basketball game in Lubbock, Texas.
Mutual contrition for a moment that spun out of control was an important take-away here.
Smart was wrong to push the fan and said so. Orr was wrong in calling Smart “a piece of crap” and also directed an apology to Smart, who will serve a Big 12-issued three-game suspension. Orr also volunteered not to attend a Red Raiders game for the rest of the season.
Let’s not get caught up in what Smart thought he heard. Reports throughout Sunday had radio broadcasters overhearing Smart say that Orr used a racial slur, which triggered the reaction.
But Sunday, just after Smart spoke without taking questions at a news conference, Tech issued a statement denying any racial slur was expressed.
This from Orr, after his apology: “ I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind.”
Tech also supplied video footage from a camera set up under the basket that Smart crashed into. The camera follows Smart after going down and picks up audio that seems to support Orr’s claim.
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford refused to answer a question about what the fan said. Only Smart knows what he heard, and only he can speak to that. Perhaps one day he’ll address this, but it wasn’t Sunday.
“This is not how I conduct myself, this not how the program is run, this not how I was raised,” Smart said. “I let emotions get the best of me. I can’t let it happen again. I’ve taken full responsibility. It’s all upon me.”
Ford added he things Smart will learn from this incident.
“Marcus is a young man who has been in the public eye quite a bit,” Ford said. “I think we’d all agree for the majority of the time, the highest percentage of the time, he’s conducted himself as a tremendous young man. He made a mistake, a mistake he’s going to pay for.”src="http://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js" charset="utf-8">