Burner Accounts Can Get You Benched! | Ask NBA Referee Eric Lewis

During news press conference ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, commissioner Adam Silver announced that referee Eric Lewis would not be working any finals game as a review of his social media habits is pending. A burner Twitter account believed to be owned by Lewis was uncovered and sparked a league-wide investigation.

“We decided that given that investigation was ongoing and it remains ongoing, that it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work in these finals,” Silver said. “I don’t know what the ultimate conclusion will be. We’ll see where the facts take us.”

What Was Eric Lewis Thinking?

A Twitter account with the handle @CuttliffBlair, is believed to be Lewis’ burner account. It started picking up a lot of attention on #NBATwitter due to posts that commented on Lewis and games he has officiated.

NBA officials are not allowed to publicly speak about officiating in manners unauthorized by the league.

On the surface it’s funny and many people are laughing at the idea of a referee with a burner account defending himself on Twitter.

However, this is a bad look for Silver and the league.

Fans on social media already have long threads and conspiracy theories about certain biases they believe referees have against their teams. Referee Scott Foster’s nickname among fans is “The Extender.”

Referees Shouldn’t Be The Story

The story there is that many of the series he has officiated have gone six or seven games. Fans speculate that the NBA lets Foster officiate whenever they need a series to go the distance.

Veteran NBA referee Tony Brothers is another official fans believe has it in for their team. Earlier this season, while he was still a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Spencer Dinwiddie said Brothers called him a “b**** a** mother***** after giving him a technical.

The fact that fans know the names of officials and there are threads with teams’ win-loss records with a particular official is alarming. If the NBA is a TV show, officials are not the main characters. They shouldn’t be as much a part of the discourse as they are.

The betting scandal of former referee Tim Donaghy in 2007-08 was a stain on the league. Despite then commissioner David Stern’s assertion that he was a rogue official, Foster was Donaghy’s best friend, for what it’s worth.

Earlier this season Fred Van Vleet went off on referee Ben Taylor, saying that in every officiating crew there is one referee that “f**** the game up.”

This was days after his teammate Scottie Barnes questioned the integrity of another official.

Not addressing the situation and pretending like there is nothing wrong won’t solve this issue. You couple all of this with the fact that the NBA, like every other professional sorts league, is in bed with online sports books and you have a lot of gray area.

During these playoffs NBA official Rodney Mott was visibly seen reacting poorly to a made Jimmy Butler layup in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, causing many to speculate whether he wagered on the game.

Referees are human and fallible. But they are responsible for the integrity of the game. The league needs them to be better and they have to demand it. They can’t open themselves up for any doubt or uncertainty.

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