In the wake of social media allegations that picked up enough traction to even draw the notice of LeBron James, the NBA is investigating whether or not referee Eric Lewis actually ran a burner Twitter account that defended him to fans online. As that investigation continues, the league is saying that Lewis will be held out from officiating the NBA Finals.
As Marc Stein reported in his Substack, this is the first time in five seasons that Lewis — who has been refereeing NBA games since 2004 — will not officiate a single game of the league’s championship series (emphasis mine):
The NBA made it official Thursday and announced that referee Eric Lewis, for the first time in five years, will not officiate in these NBA Finals while the league investigates a Twitter account that has frequently posted about Lewis for nearly eight years. NBA referees are prohibited from commenting publicly on officiating matters. Lewis has not worked since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on May 16. I reported last Friday that the league had opened an investigation into the account and Lewis’ possible connection with it after the posts were spotlighted by Twitter users @Mikey_Wyllin and @PabloEscoburner. Said NBA spokesman Mike Bass: “Regarding Eric Lewis and the social media posts, we are continuing to review the matter and he will not be working the Finals.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at his pre-Finals press conference that the league felt it wouldn’t be “appropriate” to have Lewis officiate while under an active investigation:
Adam silver on referee Eric Lewis not refereeing the NBA Finals:— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 1, 2023
We decided that given that investigation was ongoing and continues to be ongoing, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to work it.
Stein’s note above that the league does expressly bar officials from commenting publicly on officiating matters is significant. With that being the case, if it does not turn out that it was not Lewis’ older brother Mark running the account — as the account itself claimed in the wake of the firestorm — he very likely will face discipline from the league beyond just losing paychecks from potential NBA Finals assignments.
We’ll see what ultimately happens and what type of discipline Lewis would even face if the NBA does find evidence that he was running the burner account, but as I noted last week, given how much attention this has drawn and the fact that the league has now officially had to comment on it and hold Lewis out of the Finals, it seems very likely they will eventually announce the findings of this investigation one way or the other.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.