Ref who riled Lakers with missed foul retires amid investigation into Twitter account

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Referee Eric Lewis, left, and Lakers' LeBron James (23) crash into the scorer's table during a game.

Referee Eric Lewis and the Lakers’ LeBron James crash into the scorer’s table during a game in San Antonio on Nov. 25, 2019. Lewis is retiring after 19 years as an NBA referee. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Eric Lewis, a veteran NBA referee who was vilified by some Lakers players and fans after an infamous no-call in Boston last season, is retiring amid a league investigation into his social media activity.

That investigation is now closed, the NBA said Wednesday in a two-sentence statement announcing both moves.

“NBA referee Eric Lewis has informed the league office that he is retiring, effective immediately,” the NBA said. “In light of his decision, the NBA’s investigation into social media activity has been closed.”

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The NBA did not immediately respond to questions from The Times regarding Lewis’ retirement and the investigation into the 19-year veteran.

In late May, the NBA opened an investigation into accusations that Lewis used a now-deleted Twitter burner account — under the name “blair cuttliff” — to defend himself and other officials against criticism from fans. NBA policy prohibits referees from publicly commenting on officiating without permission.

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Lewis had officiated in six NBA Finals games since 2019, including at least one each season, but was not assigned a game for the Denver Nuggets-Miami Heat championship series in June. Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed during a news conference at the time that Lewis was not included in the Finals because of the ongoing investigation.

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His final game was the Lakers’ 132-126 loss to the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals May 16.

Lewis drew the ire of L.A. players and fans in January when his officiating crew did not send LeBron James to the free-throw line at the end of regulation despite the Lakers star appearing to be hit on the arm while shooting by Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

Before overtime, then-Lakers guard Patrick Beverley was given a technical foul by Lewis for bringing a camera on the floor and attempting to show him the foul.

After the Lakers’ overtime loss, Lewis told a pool reporter that a foul should have been called on Tatum at the end of regulation.

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“There was contact,” Lewis said. “At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”

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Both James and Beverley reacted on Twitter when the rumors of Lewis’ alleged burner account first surfaced.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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