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February 11, 2014

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Oklahoma City — Tulsa World, Feb. 11, 2014

Smart, Texas Tech fan crossed the line

Oklahoma State University basketball player Marcus Smart did a dumb thing in Lubbock, Texas, Saturday night. Provoked by a fan, he lost his self-control, and he shoved the man on national TV.

Then, Smart did the right thing Sunday by offering a sincere apology. The Big 12 did the right thing, too — handing Smart a three-game suspension.

It’s difficult to come down too hard on a 19-year-old kid who lost his temper when he was called a “piece of crap” (or worse, according to some reports).

But players simply can’t do that.

We have a good deal of scorn for the Texas Tech University fan, an adult, who delivered the words and received the shove. You ought to be able to love your team, enjoy a basketball game and still be proud of your behavior the morning after the game.

Let’s put it this way: Neither side showed the maturity that anyone would want representing their school.

The fan went over the line, and Smart came right back at him. The fan also has offered an apology and given up his seats for the remainder of the season.

Marcus Smart could have a successful career ahead of him both at OSU and likely even into the NBA. We hope so. He’s a talented young man. Pro scouts often have said that as much as his ability to play basketball impresses them, his character is just as strong.

Fans are expected to be emotional about their teams. Players are expected to be passionate about their sport. Both also need to have some self-possession, some personal boundaries.

We hope that both Smart and the Texas Tech fan have learned where that line is and how to stay on the proper side of it.

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