Steve Kerr: ‘Marcus Smart Made A Huge Mistake By Going After Jeff Orr’

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(Credit: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

(Credit: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

When Steve Kerr was a freshman at Arizona in 1984, his father, Malcolm, was assassinated in Beirut. A few years later, when Kerr was a senior at Arizona, he trotted onto the court to warm up before a game at Arizona State.

That’s when people the opposing student section started making inappropriate chants about his father’s murder.

Unlike Marcus Smart on Saturday night, Kerr did not go into the stands and attack anyone.

“I didn’t even really equate it to my situation, to be honest with you,” CBS and TNT analyst Steve Kerr said on The John Feinstein Show. “When that happened with me, again, it was an hour before the game. It was probably three drunk students who started yelling stuff. It totally unnerved me. I didn’t think about going up there. I just was sort of in shock and I went and sat down on the bench, and my teammates came over and consoled me. It was just bizarre. It was so crazy that anybody could stoop so low to say something like that. So my response came on the court, and I did have a really good game. It all kind of worked out, but it was just bizarre.

“The other night watching that,” Kerr continued, referring to Smart, “my first thought was, ‘Fans are just idiots sometimes.’ They really are. Not all of them, obviously. Most fans are very well-behaved. But I just don’t understand what makes a fan yell something that nasty at a player – and there’s varying reports abut what was said. I think we can all agree it wasn’t anything very nice.

“But I just don’t understand why fans cross the line like that. Maybe it’s alcohol. It’s great to boo, and it’s great to cheer. But when you start using racial epithets – (or) whatever it is, (you’ve crossed the line). I don’t know what he said, but it couldn’t have been good. And I blame the fan more than I blame Marcus Smart.”

Tom Izzo blames social media, among other culprits, for incidents between players and fans. Because fans feel so connected with players, Izzo said, they almost feel like they’re a part of the game – even though they’re clearly not.

It was reported this past weekend, in fact, that an Arizona State student spit on Oregon assistant coach Brian Fish and team trainer Clay Jamieson.

If that’s not crossing the line, what is?

“This stuff does happen, and obviously it’s so emotional,” Kerr said. “Everybody’s passionate about who’s going to win, who’s going to lose – players, coaches, fans. Everyone is. But you just have to be able to draw the line and not cross it, and that’s true for Marcus Smart, too. He made a huge mistake by going after that guy.

“It’s a shame, but it’s kind of what happens. We’ve got an arena filled with fans, a lot of them have been drinking, there’s an intense competition involved, and unfortunately stuff like this is going to happen occasionally.”

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