Referee Eric Lewis not selected to officiate as league probes burner tweets

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Oct 19, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; NBA referee Eric Lewis during the Phoenix Suns game against the Dallas Mavericks at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NBA referee Eric Lewis allegedly used a burner account to defend himself on Twitter. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports).

Longtime NBA official Eric Lewis was not selected among the 12 referees to appear for the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat’s NBA Finals matchup. This comes as the league investigates his alleged usage of a burner Twitter account to respond to criticism of his work.

“Regarding Eric Lewis and the social media posts, we are continuing to review the matter and he will not be working the finals,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said Thursday.

In his 19 seasons as an NBA referee, Lewis boasts 83 playoff games and 1,098 regular season games of experience. His absence from the league’s list of officials released Thursday morning marks his first time missing the Finals in five years.

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Los Angeles Lakers fans might recognize Lewis as the referee who gave Patrick Beverley a hilarious technical foul when the then-Lakers guard grabbed a photographer’s camera to show him evidence of a missed call. His last assignment was on May 16 for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between Denver and the Lakers.

His alleged social media activity was pushed into the spotlight about a week later when Twitter users shared now-deleted tweets from the handle “@CuttliffBlair.” Fans pointed out that the account almost exclusively defended Lewis and other NBA referees. One account even posted a screen recording of the consistent stream of officiating-focused tweets.

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The account was deactivated last week, then active once again on Wednesday evening.

Now the league is tasked with determining whether Lewis actually spoke about officiating without authorization, which is a violation of league rules. If he is found to be behind the account, it’s unclear what kind of discipline he would face.

There’s currently no timeline for the investigation. In Lewis’ absence, most of the officials who will work the Finals will still be familiar faces. Scott Foster will work his 16th Finals, while Tony Brothers and Marc Davis were selected for the 12th time. Zach Zarba, Ed Malloy, John Goble and David Guthrie have now been selected more than five times. Josh Tiven will make his fourth finals appearance and Bill Kennedy will make his fifth. Courtney Kirkland and James Williams are now three-time selections.

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Kevin Scott, who became an NBA referee in the 2010-11 season is the only first-time selection.

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