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Referee Eric Lewis won't work NBA Finals while league looks into tweets

Referee Eric Lewis won't work NBA Finals while league looks into tweets

DENVER (AP) — Eric Lewis was not selected as one of the 12 referees who will work the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat, while the league continues to look into whether he 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, which utilizes the name “blair cuttliff.” The account was deactivated briefly last week but was active again Wednesday evening.

“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.

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 worked more than 1,200 games, counting both regular season and playoffs, in 19 seasons as an NBA referee. He last worked on May 16, when Denver played host to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. The reports of the tweets came out about a week later.

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