I should clear something up. Democrat Jefferson Smith (pictured, right)* has denied punching any pick-up basketball opponent in the balls. His opponent yelled "You just punched me in the balls!" and Smith replied "I punched you in the thigh, not the balls." So, in the interest of fair and balanced coverage, he allegedly punched a guy in the balls. He's also been banned from a rec-soccer league for shoving people.
Willamette Week has the whole story, and it's pretty great. Last November, the mayoral candidate joined a pick-up game with a bunch of guys who had been playing together for years. Things eventually got testy.
During the game, Smith-6 feet 4 inches and 240 pounds, according to his driver's license-hit the floor after a collision "Face up and ass down," as one witness put it. That's when Smith punched an opponent.
One player who witnessed the punch found Smith's actions so remarkable he wrote about them in a journal entry that night.
"[I]n all of my ten years or so playing in this organized pick-up game, I have never seen anyone seem like they were close to throwing a punch let alone to actually throw one," the player wrote.
We can thank the journal account for the great ball-punching quotes, too. Willamette Week also spoke with Smith who made a good point:
"If I wanted to punch him in the nuts," Smith says, "I would have punched him in the nuts."
Nevertheless, Smith was kicked out of the game and hasn't been back since. Similarly, he was booked in an indoor co-ed recreational soccer game. Smith was involved in a battle against the boards that resulted in him shoving another player. He was given a red card and the league eventually banned him for a year. Smith regrets these lapses in sportsmanship but he's ready to move on and advance his political career.
"I've dealt with the press and had thousands of interactions with lobbyists. I tend to be pretty different when I put on a tie."
"I just turned 39," Smith adds, "and I'm mellowing."