Hoops Fans & Fights — It’s Nothing New

b-ballSo, one day you’re just a loyal Texas Tech basketball fanatic with season tickets by the court at the endline.

Next day, every sports fan in the land knows your name — Jeff Orr — and that you called a not so smart opposing Oklahoma State player, “a piece of crap.”

It’s taken me awhile to get some sense of the whole Marcus Smart meltdown in Red Raider Land. He’ll be staying at home for three tilts. Orr has volunteered to stay out of the gym until next season.

Fingers have been pointed — and shaken — at both Orr and Smart from all across the land. From media types. From holier than thou fans of other schools.

Somebody a lot of folks have faith in once said, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”1

I bring that up because there might be some smug fans in the Big Blue Nation and among the Cardinal faithful that think something like that would never happen here.

Actually, it already has.

In March, 1953, Seton Hall, then ranked #1 in the land, came to play U of L at the Jefferson County Armory. The Pirates had bested the Cards by 11 earlier in the season up in Jersey.

Louisville did exact revenge, winning the game by 6.

More salient is the affair ended in a brawl, with Louisville fans running on the court and attacking Seton Hall players. One, Mike Hannon, was sucker punched from behind, and dropped to the hardwood. The image ended up on the cover of Life Magazine.2

The visitors star was Walter Dukes. He was a man of color. So too his backup, Frank Minaya. There is little doubt the brouhaha had racial overtones. Seton Hall was not allowed to stay in any hotels in town. The team ended up sleeping in the Pullman car of a train.

So, yes, it can and did happen here. And drew national attention.

In Lexington, there’s the infamous game when Memorial Coliseum Wildcat fans threw oranges at the stars of the rival Tennessee Volunteers.

Bernard King is a man of color. Ernie Grunfeld is Jewish.


So, I assume you get my point.

Such abusive behavior has been going for ages. With fans getting involved, as described above. As well as among players on the court during action.3

Of course, it’s awful.

But it’s here to stay. Whether it is just about members of the crowd, who are too fanatical about their favorite team, or there is some other animus present.

Competitive sports unfortunately foster competitive emotions by fans. Too many times, fans — many fueled by the alcoholic beverages of their choice — can’t control themselves. Untoward incidents ensue.

Marcus Smart, who’d been a lit fuse for several games before the one at Texas Tech, was wrong. Jeff Orr was wrong.

One can only hope the extent of publicity about this incident in this media saturated world we live in will help quell such incidents in the future.

So, I’m not going to blame either Smart or Orr. It happened. These are, sadly, contentious times. Stuff happens.

Hopefully not a lot of it.

— Seedy K


3 thoughts on “Hoops Fans & Fights — It’s Nothing New

  1. I’ve seen “worse” fights than that at nursery school. This was blown way out of proportion considering what really happened—the altercation was defused quickly and with great effect by all involved, including Orr and Smart. If this was Maxwell Smart from Coppin State and not Marcus Smart, All American, this thing would maybe have one line on p13 of the scores and nothing more would ever be heard about it.

    If I remember, not a single Card or Gamecock got any suspensions for the brawl in Columbia in 1988. Now that was a fight. If that happened today, Pervis, Herb and Kenny P would have probably been suspended for the season. Other matters of greater consequence come immediately to mind, including the swinging chair from Memphis State days and the infamous UK/Holly Cross fight in the late 40’s/early 50’s when Bob Cousey and the Cats light it up and not only were there no suspensions, but no one was even tossed from the game.

    Not saying both Smart and Orr weren’t wrong about what happened, but a mountain has been made out of this mole hill.

    1. I attended a VANDY/Tennessee basketball game in 1970 in Nashville. UT was up by 7 points and called timeout with 15 seconds to go so their players could run around the court and make taunting gestures to the crowd. In response Vandy fans hurled at least 50 oranges at Ray Mears and company. It was not about race or religion. Nevertheless the Tennessee governor, Winfield Dunn, who was in attendance, was mortified.

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