So I've had a few more hours to watch the videotape another dozen times and kick this whole Marcus Smart deal around the block again, and a few somewhat more fully formed thoughts occur:
* The key point -- Did Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr or did he not spout a racial epithet at Smart? -- remains, for me, still unresolved. And it probably always will be.
Orr swears he never called Smart the magic word (starts with an "n" ... well, you know), but you have to wonder. Orr does, after all, have a reputation for being something of a psycho -- a painfully accurate term for a 50-year-old alleged adult who gets his jollies screaming at college kids. Who does that who's right in the head?
So I suspect he was yelling more things than just "piece of crap" at Smart. And the way Smart's head snapped around and the way leaped to his feet suggest that he at least thought he heard Orr use the magic word. That kind of reaction you don't generally get from your garden-variety trash talk.
So, who knows?
* All that said, the punishment meted out by the Big 12 was probably appropriate. No matter how much a blowhole like Orr had it coming, you can't shove a fan. Yet the fact Smart is a 19-year-old kid, and considering the apparent extremity of the provocation, sitting him down for much longer than three games would have been unjust.
Bottom line is, the kid reacted in a totally understandable way. Doesn't make it right, but it was totally understandable.
* Texas Tech's response, however, was not so understandable.
That it sided with one of its own fans in a dispute with a rival team's player was perhaps expected, but taking no action whatever against Orr was an entirely different matter. Regardless of Orr's voluntary promise to stay away for the rest of the season, Tech should never have given him that option.
The school should have revoked his tickets, kicked him out of the building and told him not to come back. That it didn't do that -- and that the Big 12 didn't see fit to penalize Tech for failing to hold its fans accountable -- remains the most glaring omission in this.
Conference Hierarchy 1, College Kid 0. As ever.
* Last but not least, the fact some news outlets compared this incident with the Malice in the Palace was ridiculous. It wasn't remotely the same.
In this case, a kid tumbles out of bounds, stands up, gets in the face of a fan who's calling him vile names from a couple feet away, then gives him a push after a brief jawing session. And that was it.
But the Malice in the Palace?
Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson waded several rows into the stands to throw down with a whole cadre of fans. It was a full-on brawl.
Sorry. No comparison. None whatever.