In the overnight hours after Marcus Smart shoved a fan in Lubbock at the end of Saturday's Oklahoma State-Texas Tech game, speculation ran wild about what might have provoked the Cowboys superstar guard to react in such a way. By morning, the narrative had been forged: Red Raiders superfan Jeff Orr told Smart to "go back to Africa."
That's thanks to BlackSportsOnline, LostLettermen, and ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott, all of whom have pushed the story. It starts with WDAF in Kansas City, which tweeted out the following at 1:30 a.m. EST Sunday morning:
Kansas City is 700 miles from Lubbock, and WDAF's own newscast only reported the secondhand claim that Smart accused Orr of calling him a "nigger." The WDAF tweet is simply amateur lipreading off ESPN's video. Here's where the game of Internet Telephone begins, and we've highlighted the tweets we believe warped one local sports guy's opinion into "fact":
(No news station in Oklahoma had reported or is reporting any such thing.)
We're not discounting the possibility Orr said any of these things. But look at how the allegation developed: every step along the way, what Orr is alleged to have said changes and grows. So, too, did the alleged source—from a "local Oklahoma station" to multiple Oklahoma news outlets to ABC news. There's one thing we're relatively confident in reporting: that Smart turned to Orr and shouted, "Watch your mouth!" But everything before that is in question, even if the Internet has decided otherwise.