An Oklahoma State basketball star was suspended for three games after shoving an opposing fan he claims taunted him with a racial slur.
Marcus Smart, a sophomore guard, attempted to block a Texas Tech player’s dunk attempt in the final seconds of Saturday’s game but stumbled out of bounds behind the basket.
As Smart was being helped up, he exchanged words with a fan in the front row and then lunged at the man and shoved him with two hands, ESPN.com reported.
The man stumbled backward but did not fall down and the player walked away, pointing back in the fan’s direction.
Smart was called for a technical foul but was not ejected.
Oklahoma State suspended Smart, who is considered to be a top NBA prospect, for three games – against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. The first game Smart would be eligible to play again is a home game against Texas Tech.
Smart apologized to the fan, the university, and his coaches and teammates during a brief statement Sunday evening.
“Just can’t let that happen again,” he said. “This is a lesson I’ll have to learn from. The consequences that are coming with it, I’m taking full responsibility. No finger pointing. This is all upon me.”
The fan, identified as Jeff Orr, is an air traffic controller from Waco, Texas, who travels thousands of miles each year to attend Texas Tech basketball games, said a spokesman for the Texas Tech athletic department.
Texas Tech conducted its own investigation of the incident and found that no racial slur was heard, and Orr denied using a racial slur and apologized for calling Smart “a piece of crap.”
“My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech — a university I love dearly,” Orr said in a statement. “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. Additionally, I would like to offer my apologies to Texas Tech fans that have been embarrassed by the attention this incident has created.”
The fan said he would not attend any Texas Tech games for the remainder of the season, ESPN reported.
A video from a 2010 game appears to show Orr making an obscene gesture toward Texas A&M player Brian Davis, who said on Twitter the same fan had made outrageous comments to him throughout his college career.
The same guy that talked crazy to me for 4 years. Smh but you should never put your hands on a fan.
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