Marcus Smart: Lessons learned
Oklahoma State star Marcus Smart said that his confrontation with a Texas Tech fan in the stands earlier this month happened in the heat of the moment and that he's learned his lesson.
Sitting down with ESPN Wednesday night in his first extended interview since the incident, Smart would not say exactly what words were exchanged with Red Raiders fan Jeff Orr.
"You know some emotions and some words went flying around," Smart said. "I'm not going to repeat anything that was said. I'm trying to get past that whole situation. Just a really bad moment and experience for me and my teammates and my family to go through. Like I said, a bunch of emotions and some words that were said between two groups of parties, and it just went down and the result was in a way that me and Oklahoma State and the Cowboys would, if we could, take back."
He said that frustration hadn't been building this season, despite the Cowboys having lost two in a row heading into the game against the Red Raiders.
"It was just heat of the battle, heat of the moment, and the competitiveness of me just took over," he said.
Smart said that he started to realize the seriousness of the situation when Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford took him into his office after the game to talk about what happened and the possible repercussions. It wasn't until later that he saw how big it had become.
"Right after the game my phone started blowing up with text messages and calls and all types of alerts from social media," said Smart, who served a three-game suspension. "That's when I realized it was bigger than what we expected it to be."
Smart returns to the court on Saturday when the Cowboys host Texas Tech.
Saying that his greatest strengths are that he's a vocal leader and leads by example, Smart said that his reputation hasn't been hurt with the team. He's still been leading while he sits out.
"That's kind of my role right now with the suspension going on, is to be that leader off the court, behind the scenes, to keep everybody's spirits uplifted," he said.
But he has been suffering sitting while the Cowboys have stumbled to a seven-game losing streak.
"It's brutal, just to see those guys out there struggling," he said, adding that "it's a learning lesson. It just shows you can never take this game for granted because it can be taken away from you faster than it was given to you."
Despite the losses and the suspension, Smart does not regret returning to school for his sophomore season instead of declaring for the NBA draft as many thought he would. He said that you can always go back and get your college degree, but if you go to the NBA, you can never go back and be a student-athlete.
"I think it's going to help me in the long run and come out the best for me," he said. "I look at it as a positive, not a negative."
As for the NCAA rules committee saying Wednesday that a player going into the stands now faces a flagrant foul 2 and ejection, Smart didn't argue.
"It's a good rule," he said. "You need to separate the fans and the players."
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