Burner accounts have been used to defend an NBA executive and an NBA superstar. Why not an NBA referee? If there existed such a thing, it might look something like the now-deleted @CuttliffBlair, which was devoted to protecting the good name of 19-year official Eric Lewis, and which vanished while I was writing this post. (This account first got on our radar courtesy of Twitter user @PabloEscoburner, who in turn offered a hat tip to user @Mykey_Wyllin.)
Let's establish some basic facts. Before it was deleted, @CuttliffBlair followed five accounts: @NBA, @NBAOfficial, @OfficialNBARefs, @RefAnalytics, and @MasonWBB—the account of the women's basketball team of George Mason University. That team is coached by Vanessa Blair-Lewis, who is married to NBA ref Eric Lewis, and whose name has "Blair" in it.
It's worth spending some time with the content of the tweets. This screen-capture video scrolls through them quickly, though you can also browse them at your leisure on the Wayback Machine:
There are some consistent themes to @CuttliffBlair's output. Most obviously, it replied to several accounts it didn't follow that were tweeting about Eric Lewis by name. The account had a sustained beef with "Laker nation." The majority of its most recent replies sparred with users who believed the Lakers were unfairly officiated in their Western Conference Finals matchup against the Nuggets.
@CuttliffBlair claimed that refs did not have rooting interests: "There no ref a celtics fan." The account called for fans to hold their players accountable rather than the refs. It pointed out a few instances where the ref in question was not Eric Lewis, in one case naming Lewis's colleague Rodney Mott. It urged users to "stop trying to feed the rig narrative." It linked out to videos of specific challenged calls and, in the course of arguments, referred breezily to specific calls made in earlier games. Of the Nuggets and Lakers, the account said that it "dont gaf about either team." On May 21, it acknowledged the superiority of the team that would go on to win the series: "Truth is Denver better overall team. They’ve shown it all yr. #1 seed aint easy." Also on May 21, it tweeted "butt juice," preceded by three cry-laughing emojis. (This was a response to someone who wrote "butt juice" first, about Lakers guard Dennis Schröder.)
There isn't enough to say for certain that this account was operated by Lewis himself. Perhaps it was someone he knows, like when a firm's investigation concluded that the infamous collar-defender was Bryan Colangelo's wife Barbara Bottini. Or perhaps @CuttliffBlair was operated by a deeply committed Reddit goblin. In any case, we can learn a little more about Lewis through the fun facts on his official page with the National Basketball Referees Association: His favorite food is lasagnaand his hidden talent is drawing.
Defector has reached out to the NBA and NBRA for comment; we'll update this post if we learn any more.