Updated Aug. 30: Eric Lewis has retired amid the league investigation into whether or not he had a burner Twitter/X account.
NBA official Eric Lewis is rapidly joining Scott Foster as one the most controversial officials in The Association. For nearly two decades, Lewis has put his head down and gone to work every day as a relatively anonymous background figure calling games. That’s all gone up in a puff of smoke this season, as he’s attracted far more attention in a four-month span than any referee ever should or would even like to.
Last week, Internet sleuths again discovered a burner account @CuttliffBlair that allegedly belonged to the 19-year NBA official that regularly defended Lewis and other officials from critical fans. If the account is Lewis’, he would face significant discipline for breaking an NBA rule prohibiting officials from publicly commenting on officiating without prior authorization.
Lewis has been a frequent target of digital mobs this season since an errant non-call during a Lakers-Celtics rematch, which is presumably what got Twitter detectives searching for dirt on him. On Jan. 28, Lewis drew the ire of Lakers fans for a non-call on LeBron James’ potential game-winning shot in the waning seconds of their loss to the Boston Celtics. The league’s official Last Two Minute Report later agreed that a foul was missed. During the contest, Pat Beverley was also assessed a technical foul for bringing a photographer’s camera to Lewis in an attempt to show him up for a foul he called on Dennis Schroeder. However, on James’ drive to the rim, Lewis wasn’t even the official nearest to the play or in a vantage point to make the call nearer to halfcourt than the baseline official who held his whistle. However, his interaction with Beverley before overtime put him in the crosshairs.
Fans were particularly interested in the Celtics 63 percent winning percentage in games Lewis has officiated, the highest of all 30 teams Lewis has officiated games for. Afterwards, Internet creeps discovered his wife’s account and disseminated a purported photo of her and their son in Celtics jerseys to further tar and feather him as a double agent for the Celtics.
In response to the accusations, Beverley and James’ tweets on the matter have further inflamed matters. Lewis’ alleged burner account existed long before the Lakers-Celtics incident in January though. The @CuttliffBlair account exhibited a proclivity for frequently attacking Laker fans, which definitely won’t hush the exaggerated accusations levied against Lewis this season.
On May 25, the account claimed to belong to Mark Lewis, Eric Lewis’ brother, although it’s unclear why that account would operate in secrecy and doesn’t explain why the @CuttliffBlair account includes the maiden name of Eric’s wife, Vanesse Blair in its handle. On the floor, officials are the judge, the jury and sometimes the executioner of pivotal games. This entire sordid affair is Exhibit A in why the NBA enforces stricter rules than the Supreme Court does on its renegade Justices to defend itself against alleged improprieties.
The need for transparency is why they introduced the Last Two Minute Report. The NBA is more on edge than any other professional league in regards to the integrity of their officials since the Tim Donaghy scandal in the mid-2000s. The aforementioned Scott Foster’simage has never recovered from the revelation that he received 134 calls from Donaghy during the period the ex-official was betting on games.
Even the Last Two Minute Report is an attempt at keeping officials accountable for their mistakes. However, the hyperactive imaginations of conspiracy-riddled NBA fans are undefeated. A.I. hasn’t progressed to the point that it can replace the complex job that NBA officiating crews conduct every night, but if they ever did pass a certain threshold, no league would benefit as much as the NBA. Robot drones would have no family to protect from social media ravagers. No dignity to defend and no allegiances that could be questioned. And presumably, they’d present a significantly lesser need for the two-minute report.
For now, the NBA is one of those sports where the human element will always be paramount, another reason why their referees are held to a uniform code of conduct. Yes, officials are allowed to be fans of NBA teams. They lived decades before joining the NBA officials fraternity. However, they are required to maintain an appearance as objective arbiters in upholding the rulebook, and Lewis’ predicament is a stress test on the restrictions they have in place.
Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex
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