In a Friday afternoon phone conversation, Marcus Smart reiterated recent claims that he had no regrets in returning to Oklahoma State for another season.
By late Saturday night, and into Sunday, regret was multiplying all around him.
Smart's frustrating season — frustrating for his play and his team's sliding reality and whatever else might be eating at him — flipped sad in the waning seconds of the Cowboys' 65-61 loss at Texas Tech.
Provoked by a fan behind the Tech basket, Smart leapt to his feet and shoved the man, 52-year-old Jeff Orr, putting the OSU sophomore far from the spotlight that had previously revealed all that was right with Smart.
Big 12 Player of the Year.
Preseason National Player of the Year.
Wooden, Oscar Robertson and Cousy awards candidate.
Captain of the Team USA U19 gold medal winning squad.
Model of survival, rising from the rugged streets of South Dallas to become all of the above.
Suddenly, the narrative has shifted.
The shove heard round the sports world happened. And Smart's flopping and kicking of chairs and on-court sulking flipped from just being irritants to being part of a perceived problem, whether fair or not.
And now his reputation, so respected and lauded by the likes of Billy Donovan and Jim Boeheim and Fran Fraschilla and others, must be repaired.
And that could take time.
“Some things are more important than winning and losing,” OSU athletic director Mike Holder said Sunday. “Your respect you have, your self-image, all that, that takes a lifetime to build, can be gone in the blink of an eye.”
Cowboys coach Travis Ford appealed to OSU fans and fans across the country to give Smart another chance.
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