NBA referee, Eric Lewis under investigation for Twitter burner account: What's at stake for veteran official?

May 29, 2023 12:11 AM IST

NBA referee Eric Lewis under investigation for alleged burner account; his reputation hangs in the balance.

The NBA finds itself embroiled in yet another Twitter burner account scandal, and this time it involves a referee. Eric Lewis, a veteran official who has been in the league for almost two decades, is under investigation following allegations that he operated a burner account on the social media platform. The NBA has launched an official review into the matter after Twitter users shared screenshots of responses from the purported burner account, which has since been deleted.

Referee Eric Lewis faces investigation for alleged Twitter burner account as NBA reviews screenshots of deleted responses.
Referee Eric Lewis faces investigation for alleged Twitter burner account as NBA reviews screenshots of deleted responses.

Lewis, known for officiating numerous playoff games and two recent NBA Finals, has officiated a total of 1,098 regular-season games in his 18 seasons as an NBA staff official. He has also been selected to officiate 82 playoff games, including six NBA Finals games. Lewis's reputation as a respected referee could now be at stake due to these allegations.

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The last time the NBA faced a similar situation was in 2018 when Philadelphia 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo resigned following an investigation into multiple burner accounts linked to him. Those accounts were found to have shared private team information and made disparaging remarks about players and media members. The league took the matter seriously, and it is expected that a similar level of scrutiny will be applied in Lewis's case.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, known for his active presence on social media, took to Twitter to express his skepticism regarding the allegations. James added an "eyebrow raise" emoji to his tweet, suggesting that he is questioning the validity of the claims. However, it remains to be seen whether the league's investigation will reveal any conclusive evidence.

The suspicions surrounding Lewis began when a photo surfaced showing his wife and children wearing Boston Celtics jerseys. This raised concerns among NBA Twitter users, as Lewis had officiated a game between the Lakers and Celtics earlier in the year. During that game, a controversial missed foul call involving James and the Celtics' Jayson Tatum occurred, leading to frustration among Lakers players and fans.

Patrick Beverley, who was a member of the Lakers at the time, even received a technical foul for bringing a camera onto the court to demonstrate the missed call to Lewis. The game was marked by several contentious calls favoring the Celtics and missed calls against the Lakers. These events further fueled speculation of potential biases and prompted fans to investigate Lewis's social media activity.

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The discovery of the alleged burner account, under the name "blair cuttliff," intensified the scrutiny. The account, which exclusively defended Lewis online, particularly against Lakers fans, garnered significant attention on social media platforms. Following the exposure, the account was deactivated and later reactivated, with someone claiming to be Lewis's brother, Mark. It remains unclear whether the brother's involvement is genuine or an attempt to conceal the account's true owner.

As the NBA playoffs continue, the league's investigation will delve into the matter to determine the veracity of the allegations. While it is unlikely that Lewis will face significant punishment for defending himself on Twitter, this incident raises questions about potential biases among officials and the need for the league to address such issues, especially when it comes to assigning referees to important postseason games.

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