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Marcus Smart banned three games for shoving fan

Marcus Smart Addresses Media


STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) -- Marcus Smart was quiet and subdued as he apologized at a podium, a demeanor in stark contrast to the one that sent shockwaves through Oklahoma State's basketball program hours earlier.

Smart was suspended three games Sunday by the Big 12 for shoving a fan in the closing seconds of the Cowboys' loss at Texas Tech on Saturday night.

The conference acted swiftly in banning the All-America guard, saying in a statement the penalty was handed down for "inappropriate conduct with a spectator."

Smart apologized to the fan, his teammates and his family for his role in the altercation before coach Travis Ford expressed support for the sophomore 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."

Late in Saturday night's game at Lubbock, Texas, Smart tumbled out of bounds behind the basket after trying to block a shot. He was helped to his feet and then shoved Jeff Orr with two hands after it appeared the Red Raiders fan said something to him. Teammates quickly pulled Smart away as he pointed back and shouted in Orr's direction.

Smart will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. He can return for a Feb. 22 home game against Texas Tech. But Ford said Smart will be allowed to practice.

"These guys mean a lot to me, and for me not to be able to be out there with them - it hits me in my heart," Smart said.

Texas Tech released a statement saying it conducted a thorough investigation. Orr denied making a racial slur, and Tech said the evidence backs up Orr's statement.

Orr, who goes to many Texas Tech games every year, has voluntarily agreed to not attend any Red Raiders home or away games for the remainder of the season, according to the statement.

"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 the 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."

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, condemned Smart's actions in a statement.

"Mr. Smart's actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference's Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy," Bowlsby said. "Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated. I appreciate the efforts of Oklahoma State University athletics director Mike Holder in addressing this matter, and believe this is an appropriate response to an inappropriate action."

Ford said Smart already is learning from the incident.

"He understands, and we talked a lot about it, that no matter what is said or anything like that within a context of the game or life in general, whether it's the heat of the moment or no matter what it is, you've got to try to keep your composure as much as you can," Ford said.

Ford said Smart is a good teammate, "no sir, yes sir, do-whatever-you-ask-him-to-do" guy who is positive, even when he struggles.

"I hate it because he gets painted with a certain brush," Ford said. "I understand that. I get that."

Considered one of the best all-around players in the country, Smart has showed frustration more than once during an inconsistent season.

The sophomore guard got off to a fantastic start, leading to speculation that he could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft this year. He has struggled in some recent games, though, including a four-point effort against West Virginia when he kicked a chair on the bench. That led to him apologizing to his teammates afterward.

"Marcus puts a lot of pressure on himself at times. It's something we have been addressing for a while," Ford said. "On many occasions he has handled it well, and on a few occasions he hasn't. I never fault his intention to be at his best every time he steps on the court. At times, it may not come across as his best, but Marcus does a pretty good job of analyzing himself and the areas in which he can improve."

Holder said everyone involved in college athletics can learn from the situation.

"Some things are more important than winning and losing," he said. "Your respect you have, your self-image, all that that takes a lifetime to build, can be gone in the blink of an eye. Playing competitive athletics is a privilege. It's not a right, it's a privilege. And that privilege can be taken away from you."

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Bob February 11 2014 at 1:04 AM

k

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Betty February 10 2014 at 10:56 PM

I would have shoved him too. It is okay to holler at a game, but don't single out a certain player. Mr. Orr, you are the adult. This is a young man and you did not set an example for him or anyone else.
Those guys are under a lot of pressure and don't need harassment.

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Charlie dont surf February 10 2014 at 7:29 PM

"Piece of crap" is easier to stomach than the N-word? Do you think Orr wouldv'e spewed either slur on the street to Marcus Smart?

Answer: Only if Orr wanted it to be the last thing he did from the standing position that day.

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toledocook February 10 2014 at 6:38 PM

Maybe Smart should go into the Marine Corps and learn to be a real man. If he doesn't like people calling him names, Mr. Smart will spend his entire time in the brig. Even children know "stick and stones."

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1 reply to toledocook's comment
Carroll Hundley February 10 2014 at 8:38 PM

So sad that another player has the name World Peace..

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toledocook February 10 2014 at 6:31 PM

Never heard him apologize to the fan he shoved... Empty apology

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imhhc February 10 2014 at 6:30 PM

Why doesn't someone, or why don't people, start mouthing off to that rude "fan"? I am not a sport junkie but I see these A.O. fans getting their less than 2 cents in by saying foul things. Grow up! Those A. O. are fans because they can not play sports.

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tjstieg February 10 2014 at 5:35 PM

In general people take sporting events for more than they are--a game/entertainment. Big bucks, however have entered in @ the college level and of course in the pros. When people pay what they pay for season tickets, memorabilia and concessions they feel that they can say and do as they please as spectators--but should they really be able to?

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ndnmmedford February 10 2014 at 5:21 PM

What is the meaning "apologize", I know w human, but if I kill somebody, I going to apologize for my act. Everybody apologize if the word apologize no exist, what said sorry, pardon, forgiveness ect., we human and we make mistake, but He did it..., we always make excuses for us mistake. He did it to the fans, no excuses.

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ppaonessa190 February 10 2014 at 5:12 PM

The fan should be banned and have to apologize as well!

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r171569 February 10 2014 at 5:29 PM

WHAT HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

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ernest February 10 2014 at 7:05 PM

Freedom of speech is alive and well..You have the freedom to to the corner of 55th and State Street in Chicago and yell the N-word all day..Go ahead, no one's stopping you...

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southrenpride187 February 10 2014 at 5:00 PM

poeple teach there kid every day that words never hurt them but putting your hands on someone is different he should be banned for life that will give us fans a little more respect on paying there checks

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3 replies to southrenpride187's comment
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