But is Marcus Smart really the problem here?
A problem, fine. I can agree with that. Again, you just can't go into the crowd. Was this an Artest situation? No, not at all, but that is always a risk when an athlete goes over that line. Smart has also drawn some unwanted attention on himself lately for his complaining and diva-ish behavior. Lots of people are saying he's acting like a spoiled, coddled athlete.
Which, I mean, duh. Of course he is. Because that's what he is right now, and that's okay. That's the path that practically every superstar college athlete has taken since the inception of college sports. I'm pretty sure the BMOC is older than the NCAA.
I actually like Marcus Smart quite a bit. I respect the hell out of his decision to tell the NBA it could wait. He was enjoying college too much. He's certainly hurt his draft stock, though that was bound to happen. As you give scouts (and opposing coaches) a larger sample size, they're going to start finding whatever holes exist in your game, and suddenly the endless potential doesn't seem so endless anymore. And when those coaches start seeing the patterns on their game films, they're going to make sure the scouts notice. It's the same reason the hottest rookies at the start of the baseball season are generally not the top dogs at the end of the year. Marcus Smart had to know that was a likely outcome. I don't think he is a dumb guy. But he stayed anyway, turning down a spot in a relatively weak draft that would have had him set for life. As he said, maybe it wasn't the "smart" decision, but I don't think you ever fault a kid for staying in school, can you?
So, yeah, he's had his decision broken down and criticized on every media outlet imaginable. He's seen his draft stock tumble, along with his stats. His formerly juggernaut of a team hasn't looked so great lately, and they didn't look great that night. I'm sure he's frustrated and was has been on the edge of snapping for a while. It happened. It's wrong, but we can get over it, right?
The bigger issue here seems to be the "super fan" and the culture that encourages it. Look, I understand the appeal of heckling. I've certainly done my share of it, and I know full well opposing players heard it. Typically, they reacted well to it. I don't think I ever got nasty with it. It's heckling, not bullying. Also, important note: I was a student. You can do dumb stuff like this in your very late teens and very early twenties. That is something else entirely. When you're in your fifties or sixties and apparently a made-of-money booster? That's a bad look, pal. And my goodness, what did he say? All the audio picked up was "piece of crap," but I have a very hard time believing Smart would react so strongly to something that mild. The booster (whose name I refuse to look up) says it wasn't anything racial, but I have a hard time believing it. If it wasn't something explicitly racial, it had to be something awfully personal. I don't think we'll ever have the full story, but goodness, Mr. Booster, grow up. You're a little old to be belittling college kids, aren't you?
You see this attitude all over the internet, too. A lot of blame goes on "social media," however you want to define that term. But trolls have been around long before that term ever came into vogue. Although I wouldn't argue with you if you said that trolling has greatly accelerated since the social media era. And it absolutely seems to be spilling out into "real life." This would be a prime example. Hecklers have existed for a long time, and I'm sure many a black ballplayer from the 50's and 60's heard a lot worse than what players hear today. And those players didn't go into the stands, it should be noted. Again, this isn't a defense of Smart. His three game suspension was well deserved and appropriate. But if you aren't a college student and you're going to act a fool like this, you don't deserve to be at the game. There's no excuse for it. And the fact that you are at least a somewhat public figure if you're one of Texas Tech's biggest boosters, that's an even poorer representation of yourself.
If you've got a degree and still don't know how to handle yourself in public, maybe you shouldn't really be out in public? It's just a thought.