Veteran NBA official Eric Lewis has not selected as one of the 12 referees who will work the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat, while he is still under investigation from the league.
The NBA has been looking into whether Lewis used a Twitter account to defend himself and other officials from online critiques.
Lewis had been chosen to work the finals in each of the last four seasons. This year’s finals referees were announced by the league Thursday morning, about 12 hours before the start of the title series.
After some now-deleted tweets were revealed by a pair of Twitter users last week, the league opened an investigation into whether Lewis violated NBA rules by speaking about officiating in an unauthorized manner.
It has not been determined if Lewis was using the account, belonged to a user named ‘Blair Cuttliff’ with the handle @CuttliffBlair.’ The account was deactivated briefly last week but was active again Wednesday evening.
NBA official Eric Lewis is being investigated over a Twitter account he allegedly used
The account that allegedly belonged to Lewis was seen commenting on multiple posts
‘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.
The league has not revealed a timetable for the completion of its probe into whether Lewis used the Twitter account. It also remains unknown what discipline from the league that Lewis could face if he broke policy by discussing officiating matters openly without approval.
Of the 12 referees picked for the Nuggets-Heat matchup, nine worked the title series last season. Scott Foster will be a finals referee for the 16th year, while Tony Brothers and Marc Davis were picked for a 12th time.
Zach Zarba is now a 10-time selection, John Goble was picked for the seventh time, David Guthrie for the sixth time, Josh Tiven for the fourth and Courtney Kirkland and James Williams are now three-time selections.
Returning to the referee lineup for the finals are Ed Malloy, now an eight-time pick, and Bill Kennedy – picked for the fifth time. The only first-time selection this year is Kevin Scott, who began working NBA games in the 2010-11 season.
Tyler Ford and Ben Taylor have been assigned as finals alternates. Foster has officiated 23 NBA Finals games, followed by Davis (18) and Brothers (15).
‘The pinnacle for an NBA official is to work the NBA Finals,’ said Byron Spruell, the league’s president of basketball operations.
Davis, Guthrie and Malloy will work Game 1 of the series Thursday night, the league said. Typically, the 12 referees each get to work one of the first four games of the series.
LeBron James has also spoken on reports Lewis is being investigated over a burner account
Besides Lewis, the other referees who worked the 2022 finals but aren’t working them this year are Kane Fitzgerald – who left on-court work after last season and took over in September as the league´s Vice President of Referee Operations and Replay Center Principal – and James Capers, who is injured.
Lewis has officiated more than 1,100 games and 82 playoff games and in recent years has been rated as one of the NBA’s best officials.
Throughout his career Lewis has been assigned six games in the NBA Finals since 2019 and the last game he was assigned was Game 1 of the Western Conference finals between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers on May 16.
The 38-year-old Lakers star James took to Twitter about Lewis on Saturday afternoon
On May 25, the account claimed it was being run by Lewis’s brother Mark.
In response to the Twitter account it follows who alleged Lewis is behind @CuttliffBlair, a tweet said: ‘This is MARK Lewis. Right family (older brother).
‘I’m sorry that I put E, in this situation, but this ain’t Watergate. You’re right, the account WILL be coming down. Twitter should not be this vindictive. Sorry to inconvenience you.’
If Eric Lewis is found guilty this would not be the first time burner accounts have caused an issue in the NBA.
Back in 2018 Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo resigned after he and his wife were linked to burner accounts that criticized some of the team’s players.
Not long after, then-Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant admitted to having several burner accounts in order to secretly interact with fans that criticized him or the team online.