The mystery is solved: Jeff Orr didn’t use a racial slur against Marcus Smart, he “only” called him a piece of crap, which initiated the shove and reaction from the Oklahoma State player, which will now serve a three-game suspension.
This incident can be viewed from a number of angles. Not just on the court, but outside of it. Orr was hinted at making a racial slur at Smart, who was seen muttering “he called me a nigger” to his teammates in the aftermath of the shove. Reasoning? There was none, but Orr was targeted as a racist from the get go by many, claiming that a white guy in Texas is likely to make some kind of racial remark, or otherwise Smart wouldn’t have reacted that way.
If Smart is going to be an NBA player, he’s going to hear things far worse than ‘A Piece of Crap’ hurled at him. Some might say that these four words alone carry some racial context with them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Smart has probably heard a lot worse in his short college career, but at that moment, everything came together: Losing, the pressure on him because of the focus on his flopping, crashing down on the court hard and onto the fans. Hearing Orr make that insulting remark was the icing on the cake, and what pushed Smart over the edge.
We can also look at this in another way: Smart, a 19-year old kid who is in the national spotlight since last season and especially since making the decision to stay for another season in Stillwater, might not be equipped, as most teenagers aren’t, to handle this kind of pressure and attention. Having a middle-aged man hurling insults at you when you’ve just crashed onto the ground doesn’t make life that much easier, but at least it can give an understanding of where Smart was coming from.
Orr didn’t do anything wrong or different from what we’re used to see in basketball games. He didn’t do something illegal, he simply cursed and took advantage of a kid being vulnerable at that moment, insulting him and getting that reaction from him. Smart should be suspended for his shove, but this is a much deeper issue than simply a fan being assaulted by a player, considering the expectations at times from student athletes are exaggerated, both in what we think their abilities are and their ability to handle difficult social situations.