CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
New York Knicks forward Metta World Peace believes Marcus Smart can learn from the fallout of his three-game suspension for shoving a fan during a game at Texas Tech on Saturday night.
If anyone would know how the Oklahoma State All-American feels, it’s the player formerly known as Ron Artest. He was suspended 73 regular-season games and the NBA playoffs in 2004 after he infamously went into the stands and attacked a Detroit Pistons fan who he thought threw a beer on him.
On Sunday, before Smart’s suspension was announced by the Big 12, World Peace said Smart — projected to be a high NBA draft pick — might benefit from learning how to deal with obnoxious fans at age 19, before he becomes a pro and millions of dollars are on the line.
“Just in general, I heard the kid is pretty good and a potential pro,” World Peace said. “So those types of challenges on the court when you’re playing and fans are rooting against you — that was a great lesson learned, so that hopefully when he does become a pro, he’ll be able to kind of withstand the fans that are rooting against him on the road.”
Late in the game at Lubbock, Texas, Smart tumbled out of bounds behind the basket after trying to block a shot. He was helped to his feet and then shoved Jeff Orr with two hands after the Red Raiders baited him. Teammates quickly pulled Smart away as he pointed back and shouted in Orr’s direction.
Smart was issued a technical foul and did not play the final seconds of the game.
He will miss games against Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. He can return for a Feb. 22 home game against Texas Tech. Coach Travis Ford said Smart will be allowed to practice.
“These guys mean a lot to me, and for me not to be able to be out there with them — it hits me in my heart,” Smart said during his apology to the fan, his teammates and his family Sunday.
Orr, who goes to many Texas Tech games every year, has voluntarily agreed to not attend any Red Raiders home or away games for the remainder of the season, according to Texas Tech’s statement regarding the incident.
“I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies to Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Tubby Smith and the Texas Tech Men’s Basketball program,” Orr said in the statement. “My actions last night were inappropriate and do not reflect myself or Texas Tech — a university I love dearly. I regret calling Mr. Smart a ‘piece of crap’ but I want to make it known that I did not use a racial slur of any kind.”
Considered one of the best all-around players in the country, Smart has showed frustration more than once during an inconsistent season.
The sophomore guard got off to a fantastic start, leading to speculation that he could be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft this year. He has struggled, however, in some recent games, including a four-point effort against West Virginia when he kicked a chair on the bench. That led to him apologizing to his teammates afterward.
World Peace said Smart needs to learn to control his energy.
“I think that emotion and that fire could be directed towards winning on the court instead of directed other ways,” he said.
The Knicks forward said given the chance, he would advise Smart to be aware of the big picture when making decisions.
“At 19 years old, when I came out of St. John’s, I was fresh out the ‘hood. I was fresh out of Queensbridge,” he said. “So my mentality was still struggle, defensive and things like that. I wasn’t really conscious. I’m 34 years old now. So he’s a young kid. I wish I would have listened when I was a kid to my elders or people who had my best interests at heart, and then I wish I would have been more conscious at that age also. Those are two things that, if you were to reach out to a kid like Marcus — a talented kid, future leader in the community — you would tell him those things.”
When asked if he would respond to the beer thrower differently now, World Peace’s eyes lit up.
“If you threw a beer on me, I would probably put you in a choke hold right now,” he said with smile. “And then we would get some ice cream later. But I would tell you how much of (a jerk) you were.”
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