Unless you haven’t turned on some kind of sports network in the past few days or looked at the Internet in general, you’ve probably heard this story already. In a game between the men’s basketball teams of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart — a presumptive first-round NBA draft pick this year — got into an altercation with a Texas Tech fan near the end of the game that ended with Smart pushing the fan.
Before I get into the meat of this article, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: Yes, what Smart did was wrong. Escalating the situation to physical contact is not something that is acceptable for an athlete to do, or for a regular person to do for that matter. I do not disagree with taking Smart out of the game, or with the technical foul he was issued — what I do disagree with is all the fallout that’s come from this incident.
I also don’t think Marcus Smart was the bad guy in all of this, contary to popular opinion.
Let me tell you a few things about Marcus Smart. He’s one of four brothers, one of whom died, and he grew up in Texas. He was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and was projected to be a top draft pick in last year’s NBA draft before he decided to stay in school another year. He represented the United States last year in the FIBA World U19 Championship. Yes, that means what you think it means: Marcus Smart is 19 years old.
I won’t tell you anything about the fan Smart pushed because I don’t believe he should become famous because of this. Let me just tell you all you need to know. He is a grown man who is a fan of Texas Tech. He is known for being in another video, which you can find by searching YouTube for “Aggie Basketball – Bryan Davis Dunk and Tech Fan,” in which this same fan made aggressive gestures and faces at another young player from Texas A&M. The link to this video was posted on ESPN’s story about Smart, but has since been removed. I guess it didn’t fit the narrative to blame this whole thing on Smart.
So here’s what happened in this incident that has everyone coming down so hard on Smart: At the end of a tough game, with his team down by two, Smart dove to stop a fast break by the other team, which resulted in him landing in the stands behind the basket. This fan, a grown man, said something offensive — some have said it was a racial slur, others have suggested it was a comment about Smart’s mother — to Smart, a 19-year-old kid. Smart turned to confront this fan, who continued yelling at Smart. Smart then pushed the fan before walking off angrily, telling his teammates what had happened.
And, of course, Smart is now the worst athlete to ever live, if you listen to what the talking heads have to say.
Let me ask you: If you were presented with that same set of circumstances, would you be able to hold back? I’m not so sure I would, and I consider myself to be something of an extreme pacifist. But there are some lines that just shouldn’t be crossed, and by the sound of it, that fan definitely crossed one of those lines with Smart. Smart is still just a young student and not a professional athlete by anyone’s standard.
A grown man belittled a kid, the kid pushed back, and now that kid is a terrible human being.
If you ask me, that’s the wrong narrative to write.