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Someone Tweeted NBA Referee Eric Lewis Out Of An NBA Finals Assignment

3:31 PM EDT on June 1, 2023

Eric Lewis #42 looks on during the game during round two game seven of the 2023 NBA Playoffson May 14, 2023 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Finals start tonight in Denver, and the stars will be out. The Nikolas, Jokic and Jovic, will be there, as will an NBA press corps unprepared for the altitude, Jimmy Goldstein, and probably Russell Wilson. One guy who will be kept far away from the spectacle is referee Eric Lewis, who had been on an officiating crew for four straight Finals, but was prevented from making it five by semi-anonymous Twitter user @CuttliffBlair.

Lewis hasn't worked a playoff game since May 16, one week before Twitter sleuths discovered @CuttliffBlair, a strident online warrior dedicated to the defense of Lewis's honor. In a post-Colangelo, post-Durant world, any egg-avatared Twitter account that spends all of its energy on defending a person who could not do so publicly from extremely specific grievances is going to draw some scrutiny, and @CuttliffBlair was suspicious as hell. When it was not posting about the superiority of the Nuggets, "the rig narrative," or "butt juice," the account addressed a number of specific Lewis calls and games that Lewis worked. The account went dark for a while, though it's been revived, with the operator of the account coming forward last week to admit to being Mark Lewis, Eric's older brother.

Whichever Lewis is behind the account, the NBA is investigating, and Lewis won't be allowed back onto an NBA court until next season, if at all. "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. The crews that will work the Finals are populated by the league's most experienced referees (Scott Foster, Ed Malloy, Bill Kennedy), some of its best (Zach Zarba and Marc Davis), and Tony Brothers (Tony Brothers). Davis, David Guthrie, and Malloy will work Game 1 on Thursday night. Into the bird-shaped void left by Lewis steps first-time Finals official Kevin Scott. Ray Ratto, who knows everything about every official that's ever stepped onto an NBA court, says Scott is not an NBA Finals-level official, so maybe we'll see some weird stuff in a game or two thanks to Lewis.

The NBA has not announced a timeline to their investigation, but hopefully they can provide a definitive answer to LeBron James's inquiries.

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