By Kevin Sherrington The Dallas Morning News
Considering that everyone in Lubbock, Texas, says Jeff Orr, the serial offender at Texas Tech basketball games, is really a nice guy, and because players have to play by the rules and fans don’t, we need a code of conduct.
Because if Mr. Orr keeps it up, he’ll ruin his reputation as a big ol’ teddy bear.
In case you haven’t been keeping up, Orr is the air traffic controller from Waco, Texas, who admits he called Marcus Smart “a piece of crap” at Friday’s Tech-Oklahoma State game. Smart, who passed up the draft last year and lived to regret it, earned a three-game suspension for his two-handed shove.
Orr and Smart, a Flower Mound Marcus product, have since apologized, a first for Orr. He didn’t apologize for an obscene gesture made against a Texas A&M player — Grand Prairie’s Brian Davis — four years ago, and if you believe former Baylor and Oklahoma State star John Lucas III, he never said he was sorry for invective directed at opposing players over the years.
Orr denies using the N-word, which is comforting, I suppose, unless you think it’s bad enough for a middle-aged man to call a college student a “piece of crap” because he plays basketball well.
For all the thousands of Jeff Orrs out there who need a little guidance, if not a nudge, here are the fans’ commandments.
1 Thou shalt not talk trash unless you can back it up: If you’re going to say something you wouldn’t say to the air traffic controller next to you, make sure it’s absolutely, positively someone you can take. This has kept me out of fights for more than a half-century. You never know when you might succeed in making a player 1.) snap, or 2.) snap you. Don’t count on rules for protection, either. For every sweetheart like Grant Hill, there’s a Metta World Peace, coolly picking you out of the crowd.
2 Thou shalt not talk trash to anyone under 21 if you own underwear that old: June Jones would love to see the students still celebrating in Moody Coliseum find their way to the football stadium. Moody was redesigned to bring kids up close and personal, and it’s working. True, it hardly seems like a portrait of academia, but it’s been going on since kindergarten, which is fine, as long as you observe rule No. 1.
On the other hand, the sight of middle-aged men jawing at college athletes is, well, creepy. Like middle-aged men hitting on cheerleaders.
There’s also this: A middle-aged man talking trash to an athlete violates rule No. 1.
3 Thou shalt not use the N-word: This is grounds for ejection not only from the arena but your time warp, as well.
4 Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously: Fans and coaches don’t win games, though Larry Brown may be an exception. Granted, fans help. But you don’t need to act like a Quentin Tarantino character.
5 Thou shalt play the straight man gladly: When Michael Jordan dunked over little bitty John Stockton in 1988, a fan told His Highness to dunk on someone his own size.
After subsequently posterizing 6-11 Melvin Turpin, Jordan turned to the fan and said, “Was he big enough?”
6 In order to pop off, thou shalt be at least as clever as the Cameron Crazies: Duke’s basketball fans were crude, profane and cheap, or so said their president, Uncle Terry Sanford, in a 1984 letter asking them to live up to their academic reputation. At the next home game, whenever a ref blew a call, they held up signs reading, “We beg to differ.” A tradition was born.
Once, when Maryland’s Adrian Branch, who’d been arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge, went to the foul line, the Crazies yelled, “Freeze! Police!”
Even Branch’s teammates laughed at that.
7 Thou shalt not encourage idiots among you: If the guy next to you yells something that would offend Uncle Terry, don’t high-five him. The player who lands in your lap may think the idiot was congratulating you.
8 If a player lands in your lap, thou shalt help him up and wish him well. What you can safely scream from the upper deck is highly flammable face-to-face.
9 Thou shalt remember that sometimes your taunts backfire: The Crazies threw empty pizza boxes on the court after North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Charles was arrested on a charge of pizza theft. Charles subsequently tore into the Blue Devils as if they were a large thin crust, all-the-way. “A monster,” is how Jay Bilas remembers it, shuddering.
10 If you’re going to violate any of these commandments, thou shalt not surround yourself with middle-aged women: Next time, Jeff, you might bring bikers.