Marcus Smart put his career in jeopardy with one shove on Feb. 8. By shoving a Texas Tech Red Raiders fan, Smart went down in infamy and was due for some kind of suspension from the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Yet on Feb. 9, his punishment was a bit less than it could have been, as Smart will have to sit out for three games and not any longer.
The Big 12 came down with the punishment on Feb. 9, nearly 24 hours after Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr in the final seconds of Oklahoma State's loss the night before. There is still no concrete evidence on what Orr said that set Smart off, beyond Orr's own admission that he called him a 'piece of crap" and denied using a racial slur.
Smart himself didn't go deep into it when he addressed the media on Feb. 9. He insisted that "this is all on me" regardless of whether he was provoked or not. Clearly Smart is in full on damage control, as he will have to rebuild his reputation, repair any damage he did to his NBA draft stock, and keep the Cowboys on track for the NCAA tournament when he gets back.
That last part could be very difficult, given that the once highly ranked Cowboys were on a four-game losing streak even with Smart. Now they have to play the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears without him, as they can't afford to lose three or even two games in that time period. Ironically, Smart's first game back will come against the Red Raiders in Stillwater.
Although there are still a lot of questions about Smart and Orr, the swift punishment and Smart's press conference have helped things die down. In addition, Smart was taken off the sports front pages when another story involving the Big 12 broke on Feb. 9, as former Missouri Tigers defenseman turned NFL prospect Michael Sam came out of the closet.
Now that Smart isn't the biggest talking point in sports anymore, he can ease into his suspension and start to rebuild. Still, this incident won't be the easiest thing to fully brush aside, and the Cowboys will certainly struggle with the aftermath in the days ahead. While Smart's long term future remains salvageable, Oklahoma State's short term future is much more uncertain.