Friday, February 14, 2014

5 comments Marcus Smart Needs Professional Help Apparently

I'm sure everyone has seen and heard about Marcus Smart pushing a Texas Tech fan (There are Texas Tech basketball fans? They exist?) for taunting him or calling him "a piece of crap." It was uncalled for and Marcus Smart was definitely in the wrong for pushing the fan and deserved some sort of suspension. Given the fact the fan was an adult taunting a 19 year old kid I tend to think 3 games was sufficient. After all, Marcus Smart isn't a professional and college athletes shouldn't have to put up with some of the shit dished out by fans. Today I have three writers who all think Marcus Smart should have gotten a longer suspension, but do so in different ways, including one who couldn't be bothered to gets his facts straight as he condemned Smart with his computer keyboard.

I'll start first with Pat Forde who says that Marcus Smart deserved a harsher suspension, perhaps the death penalty?

The three-game suspension handed down jointly by the Big 12 Conference and Oklahoma State to the Cowboys’ star guard after shoving a fan at Texas Tech is lighter than it should have been. Not egregiously lighter – three games is not insignificant – but Smart should have missed at least half of Oklahoma State’s remaining eight regular-season games, if not more.

I'm already confused by the opening paragraph. Pat Forde states the following:

1. Marcus Smart got off easy. His suspension should have been heavier than it was.

2. Smart's suspension isn't insignificant. Three games is a lot of games.

3. Even though three games isn't insignificant, it's not significant enough. Smart should have missed at least one more game.

4. Smart should probably have missed more than four games, but the exact amount of games Smart should have missed is unstated by Forde. 

So if three game isn't significant and four games is the minimum amount of games Smart should have missed, then how many games does Pat Forde think Marcus Smart should have missed? This is never clarified and the reader is left to guess.

Smart crossed a line that athletes have known for decades not to cross – do not assault a fan. No matter what is said.

Smart pushed the fan. It's not like he punched him in the face. Smart was being taunted by a grown man and lost his cool. He shouldn't be let off easy for that, but I think there's a much larger case to be made that the fan's behavior in this situation was the very reason Smart pushed him and the fan instigated the incident. I realize Smart should not have pushed the fan, but there are a lot of fans out there who think they can say or do whatever they want to these players (unpaid, "amateur" players at that) without repercussions. It's bad enough the NCAA uses players as unpaid labor, but to expect these kids to endure taunts by non-grown up grown ups is a bit too much to ask sometimes in my opinion. This larger case won't be made and there won't be a larger conversation about why it is fine for a middle-aged man to verbally abuse a college student. So that's that.

To be sure, there is no need to “crucify” Smart, to use the loaded verbiage of Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder.

There's no need to crucify him, it's just that Smart needs to be punished more severely while the fan is left to punish himself through whatever method he sees fit. Pat Forde doesn't think Smart should be crucified, he should just miss as many of the remaining regular season games as possible.

But a more significant suspension would not ruin the young man’s career or life, and would reinforce the vital message that athletes cannot go into the stands (or even to the edge of them) and get physical with fans.

I think three games sends that message. And really, Pat Forde is overstating what Smart did. Smart didn't really go into the stands any more than he was already in the stands after the ball was whistled dead. He moved a little further into the stands to confront the man he believed was heckling him. I completely agree that players can't get physical with fans, but where is the fan's responsibility in this equation? Sure, Jeff Orr bought a ticket, but he didn't buy permission to verbally abuse college athletes while they are playing a sport. His ticket isn't an invitation to do or say whatever he wants to say.

When Smart had his chair-kicking tantrum against West Virginia on Jan. 25, there was no public institutional reaction. Not during the game, not after, and not in terms of the starting lineup two days later against Oklahoma in Norman.

Travis Ford went soft on Smart then, tacitly enabling the uncontrolled behavior that would only get worse Saturday night in Lubbock.

I completely believe that Travis Ford was not present enough in this situation. He should have taken more control after the fact then he ended up taking. I don't know if Ford enabled Smart, but I'm not sure if Smart had been taken out of the starting lineup on January 25 he would have avoided pushing Jeff Orr.

To be sure, the three games Smart will miss are important ones: at Texas on Tuesday, home against rival Oklahoma on Saturday and at Baylor on Feb. 17

If that happens, a team that began the year ranked in the top 10 would be 4-9 in the Big 12 and would seemingly need to mount a furious rally in the rest of the regular season and the conference tourney to reach the NCAA tournament.

In Travis Ford's defense, it's not easy to take a really talented team and win basketball games. It takes game planning and coaching. You can't just recruit these guys and expect to win games, so perhaps actually coaching the Oklahoma State team may be more than Ford is capable of doing.

The other unsatisfying element of Oklahoma State’s press conference Sunday was the school’s refusal to say what words Smart heard from Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr. The OSU radio broadcast team reported Saturday night that it overheard Smart tell the Cowboys coaching staff he was called the N-word. 

I think bringing up exactly what was said is difficult to prove and would only serve to prolong the incident in the minds of the public. I'm guessing Oklahoma State just wanted this to be over with.

In an apologetic statement Sunday, Orr refuted that, saying he called Smart “a piece of crap.”

Oh, well that's much better then.

Neither is acceptable communication from an adult to a college athlete, and it is welcome news that Orr said he will voluntarily attend no more Texas Tech games this season. But a racial slur would be significantly worse.

It does matter what Orr said, but then again it really doesn't matter. Either way, he said something that set Marcus Smart off and has a history of semi-unruly fan conduct. It's nice that Orr has the chance to choose his punishment. If anyone got off easy, it's probably Orr. He's lucky Texas Tech didn't ban him from any further games this year or even next year. In fact, there is precedent in the NBA for fans to be banned for life for bad behavior against athletes. Five fans who helped to ignite the Melee at the Palace in 2004 were suspended for life from attending Pistons games. Obviously the scale is smaller here, but there is a precedent for fans to be punished for inciting a player's temper. The Melee at the Palace occurred in the NBA, where I think the players have more of a duty to the fans who pay their salary, and the fans still got punished severely for their behavior.

If we want to eradicate such hateful speech from athletic venues, step up and call it out. Identify the churls who need to be tossed out of sporting arenas, and the words that fans should never be allowed to say without (non-violent) repercussion.

Again, it makes sense to know that Oklahoma State wants this to all go away so this incident will be in the past, as opposed to playing a game of "He said-He said" over the next week or so as people analyze audio tapes to find out exactly what phrase or slur (if he uttered one) that Jeff Orr said. And it's not necessarily the responsibility of Oklahoma State to point out to Texas Tech which fans should be tossed out of the arena. As the home team, along with it being their arena, that responsibility is on Texas Tech security to keep civility.

The silence from Oklahoma State on this issue doesn’t help the situation.

I love how Pat Forde claims the onus is on Oklahoma State to prove something they don't care to prove in order to prove a point the school doesn't appear to care to make.

And it doesn’t help clear Smart’s name. If he concocted the racial slur as an excuse for his actions, that’s one more reason to question his character.

At no point has Marcus Smart claimed Jeff Orr called him any kind of racial slur. So the mere idea created by Pat Forde that Smart "concocted" this racial slur as an excuse for his actions is just a pure fantasy on the part of Forde. Smart has concocted nothing and the only reason to question Smart's character is based on this incident alone, despite Forde's attempts to find other reasons to question Smart's character.

The stage is set for a made-for-TV parable about the chastened guard’s return as a wiser young man.

Hopefully he will be. But for a guy whose biggest historic impact on college basketball will probably be going after a fan, this feels like a premature return.

This is Smart's biggest historic impact as long as sportswriters continue to bring this incident up, especially with the implication that Marcus Smart lied about what Jeff Orr stated that set Smart off. Marcus Smart hasn't stated anything about what Orr did or didn't say. He has apologized and that's it. That's not a fun story to cover though, so Pat Forde wants Oklahoma State to continue the story by trying to find out exactly what Jeff Orr said, all while wondering if Smart concocted a story. Forde ignores the fact that Smart hasn't spoken publicly at all about what he heard and any "story" being concocted hasn't come from Smart. Let's blame Smart for lying now too.

Tom Keegan of (a clearly unbiased group of people) says in his "Double-Chin Music" blog that Marcus Smart needs professional help, which seems like a bit of an overreaction to Smart pushing a fan. 

Let's hope Marcus Smart, spiraling dangerously out of control, gets the suspension he deserves and the counseling help he clearly needs.

I'm not underplaying what happened, but Marcus Smart, who is a kid, pushed a fan. He's clearly in the wrong and this should never have happened. But this means he needs counseling? I don't know. 

Something — perhaps the decision to turn down probable guaranteed millions by returning to Oklahoma State for a sophomore season back-firing with each missed three-point shot that easily could have been an assist for a better shooter — clearly is eating at the projected lottery pick of a year ago.

Actually, it's probably the constant losing and underachieving that has Marcus Smart on edge. It also didn't help that a grown man was taunting him and calling him names. 

I also enjoy how Keegan ties this in to Smart's draft stock and how it is plummeting. Because kicking Smart while he's down and suggesting he needs counseling isn't enough, Keegan also has to seemingly criticize Marcus Smart for staying in school one more year at the expense of his lottery stock, as if Smart would have stayed in school if he really cared too much about his draft stock potentially falling. 

The saddest aspect of Smart's night came after his unbelievable shove of a man who appeared to be in his late '50s or so.

Of course Keegan leaves out that a man in his late 50's who is taunting a college athlete could probably benefit from some counseling as well. Clearly there's some rage or issues with identifying himself too closely with the Texas Tech team that Jeff Orr has. But that's right, why criticize the fan when the amateur athlete is such an easy target?

He was escorted off the court by a man from the Oklahoma State bench who clearly was concerned Smart was capable of making a horrible situation worse.

Well Smart had just shoved a fan and this man from the Oklahoma State bench was concerned about getting Smart off the court safely before anything else happened. This isn't a sad aspect, but an occurrence that often happens when a player on the visiting squad is ejected from a game. 

Smart needs professional help.

I'm not entirely sure this is true. It sounds like Smart needs to think more before acts and understand that it is not acceptable to push a fan, no matter how much of an asshole the fan is being. 

After he gets it and is allowed to return to the court at some point, his road map back to a spot in the NBA draft is not all that difficult to follow: 1. Break down the defense with drives to the hoop and pass the ball to one of three more skilled scorers on the floor with him: Brown, Le'Bryan Nash, Phil Forte; 2. Stop flopping; 3. Stay on the court.

Again, Smart was already off the court when the ball was whistled dead. He lost his temper and that's unforgivable, but many of these sportswriters who condemn Smart are the same ones who don't read the comments on columns they have written because they don't find these comments worthy of reading? Imagine if those comments were screamed at the writer as he tried to write another column, I wonder how easy it would be to remain calm and focused?

David Jones of "The Patriot News" in Central PA says that Marcus Smart got off too easily and then proceeds to getting facts incorrect in an effort to draw a parallel to the 2004 Melee at the Palace between the Pacers and Pistons.

A 3-game suspension for Marcus Smart? Not enough. Not nearly enough.

Death to Marcus Smart! We can't have angry amateur athletes coming after middle-aged white men simply because the middle-aged white man called the amateur athlete "a piece of crap." What kind of world do we live in where a grown man can't yell at and calls names in the direction of a college kid all in the name of sports? Not a world that David Jones cares to live in, that's for sure.

A lot you can excuse just before, during or just after a hotly fought major athletic contest. If you get this far, it means you’re a competitor. Add the juice of adrenaline to such a personality and you can come up with a nitroglycerine moment.

I'm not downplaying it, but Smart pushed the guy. I've pushed people before and then realized I was in the wrong (not often, but it's happened once or twice) and immediately apologized. Smart didn't immediately apologize, but he was contrite the next day. It's not like he punched Jeff Orr.

But I think there’s a line that cannot be crossed without extreme punishment. That line is the one that divides the playing surface from the seats.

But where is the line on fan behavior. Perhaps I'm too blinded by the fact this is a college athlete, but Marcus Smart is 19 years old. 19 years he has been on Earth. Jeff Orr is much older than that and he seemingly has a history of taunting and misbehaving while cheering at Texas Tech athletic events. Where's the line for him? I won't excuse Smart's behavior, but where's the line drawn between simple cheering and attempts to incite the opposing players'?

I cannot believe the Big 12 decided to levy only three games against Smart. It does not matter that the Texas Tech fan who verbally accosted him and whoever those goggle-eyed women around him were look like some fanatical hayseeds.

It does matter though. There has to be some recognition that a grown adult was calling a college athlete names and that is what set Smart off. I would again ask David Jones how he would feel if those people he sees as idiots in the comments of his articles said those things to him while he was trying to write a column? Many writers don't read their comments because they are so negative and useless, but professional (and amateur) athletes hear those comments directed at them during a sporting event. How would David Jones react if he had to hear negative comments about him and heard his readers calling him names?

It does not matter what any fan says to him in such a situation, even if he is called “a piece of crap.”

Well, it does matter what a fan says to Smart. Some comments are incredibly inflammatory, though I wouldn't consider calling Smart "a piece of crap" as incredibly inflammatory.

He can’t engage in any physical contact. If he does, it should mean dire consequences. No grace period.

Smart can't engage in physical contact and he was suspended three games for engaging in physical contact. I think that's sufficient.

In my mind, the same rules should hold for any fan. Yelling and screaming insults may be socially objectionable but that’s what has traditionally passed for license paid by the price of a ticket.

I think fans have a license to cheer for their team, but my personal opinion is if a fan decides he's going to start taunting a player and thinks the fact he has a ticket will hold him back from potentially getting his ass kicked by a player then he's dead wrong. An athlete should not accost or physically threaten a fan, but if some dumbass is calling a player names, slurs or just generally being rude in order to get under the athlete's skin, then he/she better prepare for getting under the athlete's skin.

If a fan crosses the line into any area of play or makes violent contact with a player when he or she inadvertently enters the seats during play, the club or school hosting the event should ban that fan for life. It’s just inexcusable.

Agreed, but the Melee at the Palace set a precedent for fan behavior as well. Five fans behaved terribly and will never attend another Pistons game (which probably pleases them at this point) as a result.

Smart should’ve been pined for at least the rest of the regular season – seven more games – and maybe for all of it.

I guess David Jones means the rest of the postseason as well when he says "maybe for all of it," because seven more games is all of the regular season.

But when you violently shove a fan for any reason, it shows a fundamental immaturity that can’t be abided. It’s the type of conduct for which adults must administer not just a punishment but a deterrent.

It's somewhat ironic that David Jones talks about adults administering a deterrent since it was an adult who helped to create the situation in the first place. I guess that doesn't matter to David Jones that Jeff Orr helped to instigate the situation in his own right and possibly this is the reason Smart's punishment was "only" three games.

It’s usually smarter, certainly fairer and more reasonable to base suspensions upon each individual case.

And in this individual case, Smart's push was instigated by a fan taunting him and calling him a piece of crap. But you know, let's not take each situation on a case-by-case basis and just set out ground rules. Fuck being smart and fair.

But what Smart did is different. It’s a breach of the basic laws of civic behavior in a public realm of the type that’s become more and more common.

It's become more common with fans at games too. Don't forget this.

The horrific mess in Detroit in 2006 is evidence of what can happen when fans (those spiked with alcohol) and players with adrenaline mix together.

What happened in Detroit in 2006? I think David Jones is referring to the Melee at the Palace which occurred in 2004. It's just like one of these mainstream media bloggers to work so hard on proving his opinion correct that he neglects ensuring the information he is providing is correct. I'm guessing David Jones was pounding the keyboard with such a fury he didn't have time to make sure he knew when the Melee at the Palace occurred.

In this case, unlike Detroit, the player was at greater fault.

It seems to me the Melee at the Palace was a more escalated version of this Smart-Orr incident. Artest could easily have ignored the drink thrown at him, just like Smart could have ignored the comment directed towards him. I don't think the situations are comparable, but instead of a drink being thrown there were words being directed at a player and instead of a player attacking and punching a fan, a fan got pushed. There's a difference obviously, but I find the fault of the fan and player to be proportionate in both situations...just on a much smaller scale. 

Unfortunately, the Big 12 came up small and its message was weak. We can only hope college basketball doesn’t pay for that down the line the way the NBA did eight years ago in Detroit.

10 years ago. It was 10 years ago when the Melee at the Palace occurred. But hey, good strong take on the Marcus Smart situation. Your opinion is solid even if your recitation of facts isn't.

Death to Marcus Smart! He should act like an adult while the adult acting like a child should feel free to punish himself however he sees fit. After all, he's a fan with a ticket so he can do whatever he wants with no repercussions.


Eric said...

This whole story pisses me off. A fifty year old dude who goes to EVERY Texas Tech basketball game, home or road, apparently, yells at a college athlete, gets what he deserves, yet Marcus Smart needs help? Maybe Jeff Orr should get help for his obsession with Texas Tech basketball. If some jackass in the stands called me a piece of crap, I would do a lot more than push him. I don't usually side with athletes, especially when it comes to the rights of college athletes, but this whole thing is ridiculous. Standing behind an invisible line thinking you can say anything you want because you paid for a ticket is ridiculous. Where the hell is the Jeff Orr is an obsessed loser who needs the crap kicked out of him backlash?

Slag-King said...

Just so you know, I'm a Texas Tech Alum, and a basketball fan. (Yes, Ben, there is indeed a TTU basketball fan--check out their 1995-1996 season).

Neither is acceptable communication from an adult to a college athlete, and it is welcome news that Orr said he will voluntarily attend no more Texas Tech games this season. But a racial slur would be significantly worse.

How is a racial slur worse than calling someone something really offensive but non-racial? "Piece of crap" is a really offensive thing to say to anyone. Words mean things which is something that people in journalism tend to forget (Peter King and Greggggg).

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I would never excuse what Marcus Smart did. It was a dumb move. I don't know if fans have gotten worse or not, but it seems like fans love to taunt players and say things personally about them. There's inbounds gamesmanship and out of bounds gamesmanship and I think just overall taunting and calling a player a name isn't really sportsmanship. It just annoys me that some fans think a ticket means they can berate a player...especially a college athlete. I tend to side with the college athletes because in my mind they are still kids and they don't always have the experience necessary to back down from taunting. It's almost sometimes like the fan wants the player to react like Smart did. That's just my experience.

Slag, I know there is a Texas Tech team. Don't worry. That was supposed to be a bad joke about a football-obsessed state that basketball is a secondary sport.

I agree with you and the worst offenders aren't really the individuals and the media protects them. Maryland fans are brutal, but they do things as a group that are pretty bad. But how are you going to punish or kick out an entire crowd? The same thing with the Cameron Crazies. The media LOVES to talk about how tough Maryland is and how Cameron Crazies love their team, but they always leave out the shit some of the fans say that is out of bounds. A lot of it is a mob mentality and then sometimes an individual pays for it. For example, I'm sure whatever Orr said isn't the first comment directed at Smart that was out of bounds, but it's the one that incited the incident. At Cameron the fans are so close and know have "cheer sheets" with personal information about a player that I can see a situation where the crowd chants about a player's girlfriend (Just chanting her name or something) and then one fan says something out of bounds and it causes the problem.

There's a double standard. An entire crowd chanting about J.J. Redick's sister can't really be stopped, but if one person in the crowd says something about Redick's sister and Redick goes after him then that guy is at fault but it's the overall environment that contributed to it.

There's just a lot of layers and now I have a headache. I blame Orr, but there is group fan behavior that can cross the line that the media ignores or even glorifies.

Eric C said...

This reeks of classism. Kid came from a public high school, had a brother die of drugs, and probably had a very different upbringing than myself or the writers.

USA Today story

Bengoodfella said...

His upbringing is not an excuse to push a fan, but it goes to show why it's probably not a great idea to taunt some players. You have no idea what their background may be.