NBA referee Eric Lewis is apparently um... retiring after 19 seasons. The league provided the update that his retirement is effective immediately, so there’ll be no farewell tour. This is not your standard so and so official is hanging it up because Lewis has been mired in controversy as of late.
In fact, he was until this update, under active investigation by the NBA’s League Office, looking into apparent Twitter burners he may or may not have been connected to. Or as we like to say around these parts (wink wink) maybe one of his loved ones was using the account, right Colangelo?
Bryan Colangelo was once connected to accounts like “Eric Jr” and “Still Balling.”
Eric Jr. meet Eric Lewis!
Anyway, because Lewis is retiring, the investigation will apparently close!?
“He retired so we’re just going to end the investigation” is a pretty absurd position to take https://t.co/mDvnjD9pqP— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) August 30, 2023
It should make officially zero fans feel better about the league’s integrity and transparency here that Adam Silver seems to prefer this just go away than risk discovering and publicizing even more potentially scandalous information.
Should paying fans accept that this is no longer worth looking into since he’s retiring, or should we conclude that the information previously discovered was so disturbing that the league has insisted he retire hoping to sweep this all under the rug?
The account in question on X (then Twitter) was @CuttliffBlair. And fans began to notice some eyebrow-raising activity from the account commenting on Lewis’ performances and games the 52-year-old officiated.
Fans became especially suspicious following a possible discovery that the officials’ immediate family may even bleed Boston Celtics green:
Referee Eric Lewis has today’s Sixers/Celtics game. His family are huge Celtics fans and the Celtics have the highest win percentage of any team he refs pic.twitter.com/fAFcSbawvO— Crossing Broad (@CrossingBroad) May 14, 2023
The NBA has Eric Lewis reffing Game 7 even after they discovered his entire family are diehard Celtics fans pic.twitter.com/By9TqAwiZ6— SAY CHEESE! (@SaycheeseDGTL) May 14, 2023
According to The Athletic staff, here’s a quick rundown of a few social media examples:
“In prior tweets, the account argued with fans and analysts over Lewis’ officiating. In one tweet, sent on April 5, the account tweeted “Congrats.” in reply to a tweet from George Mason women’s basketball announcing the contract extension of coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis. Blair-Lewis is Eric Lewis’ wife.
On May 25, a post in response to the discovery of the account said the account belonged to Mark Lewis, Eric’s older brother.
In @CuttliffBlair’s final tweet, the user said “This is MARK Lewis. Right family (older brother).”
“I’m sorry that I put E, in this situation, but this ain’t Watergate. You’re right, the account WILL be coming down. Twitter should not be this vindictive,” the tweet read. “Sorry to inconvenience you.”
After the posts drew attention, the NBA opened an official review into the matter.”
So again it begs the question, did the NBA allow Lewis the courtesy of retiring, rather than somehow getting exposed for whatever the league may have found during its investigation the same way the Sixers once allowed Bryan Colangelo the courtesy of resigning on his own terms?
I’m certainly not leaning toward his retirement being a coincidence here, but feel free to give him the benefit of the doubt if you’d like. He’s only 52, Dick Bavetta didn’t hang up his zebra stripes ’til he was 74.
Fans were already suspicious of Lewis potentially favoring the Celtics during games. According to the New York Post:
“The account, which was opened in 2015, had zero followers eight years later.
Lewis was repeatedly accused by various fan bases of having a bias for the Celtics.
One account claimed the Celtics had a 54-29 record in games officiated by Lewis, saying the metric is “f–king insane” and “smells like CORRUPTION”.
NBA ref Eric Lewis has been outed as having a burner account (@CuttliffBlair). Lmaooo this is a momentous day. The account will surely be deleted soon so for the archives, the entirety of the account’s replies. All involving… yep, Eric Lewis.— Pablo Escobarner (11 natties) (@PabloEscoburner) May 25, 2023
(h/t @Mikey_Wyllin) thread ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/6GTvURouOc
Lewis officiated in the Sixers-Celtics Game 7 these past playoffs, but despite working the previous four NBA Finals, the league’s social media investigation barred him from continuing beyond the 2023 Conference Finals.
He became a story during the season because he was the official who swallowed his whistle on a blatant foul by Jayson Tatum against LeBron James at the end of a controversial ending between the Celtics and Lakers. The league admitted the crew missed a key call that should have sent LeBron to the stripe in a 105-105 tie ball game. Instead, Boston wound up winning in overtime.
“There was contact,” Lewis, the crew chief said to a pool reporter after that January game. “At the time, during the game, we did not see a foul. The crew missed the play.”
Sixers new free agent acquisition Patrick Beverley was innocently just trying to help Lewis understand the egregious mistake he’d just made when he showed him a professional camera of the foul, lol. The Celtics finished just three games better than the Sixers in the standings, earning home court for the playoffs. But at least PatBev was fighting the good fight.
Oh right, and Lewis was also seen apparently wincing after a shot by Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler in the Conference Finals, after the former Sixer scored on the Celtics in a huge Game 1, stealing home court advantage.
I am calling for the resignation of NBA referee Eric Lewis who is 100% COMPROMISED and must at least be banned from officiating Heat Celtics games.— oyoops (@oyoops) May 18, 2023
Watch his reaction as Jimmy Butler hits the late dagger.
Just how much money did he have riding on this game!!? https://t.co/gmGRlD9cOU pic.twitter.com/j2KryBiY9a
By now many Sixers fans feel the team, mostly led by James Harden, didn’t deserve to go much further than they did. But following a post from Woj after their crushing Game 6 loss, it’s not exactly comforting knowing the league slated Lewis and Scott Foster to officiate the series’ deciding contest.
An interesting dynamic approaching Celtics-Sixers Game 7, per sources: NBA’s officiating game report shared with teams from Game 6 revealed a significant disparity: 13 officiating errors disadvantaging 76ers to four disadvantaging Boston. Those can include calls and non calls.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 14, 2023
- Eric Lewis’ family are Boston fans.— BigE (Dillon Brooks Believer) (@BigE_Houston) May 14, 2023
- Boston Celtics are 11-2 in the playoffs when Eric Lewis is the ref
- James Harden is 1-13 in the playoffs when Scott Foster is the ref
Philly fans, good luck tonight lol https://t.co/sHxNomjSMu pic.twitter.com/9svqUrU0Og
Foster, of course, is the referee who probably only a handful of NBA die hards even remotely trust. You’ll remember this stuff, from CBSNews:
“Foster is the official who received 134 phone calls from disgraced referee Tim Donaghy between October 2006 and April 2007, as originally reported by FOX News. That was the same period during which Donaghy admitted to betting on NBA games. The report said that Donaghy called Foster more than any other ref and that he didn’t call any other official more than 13 times.”
We’re supposed to just conclude that the two were innocently chatting about the weather in their respective cities at halftimes of games Donaghy was actively betting on, right Mr. Silver?
Foster has had a longstanding beef with Chris Paul and James Harden and was voted by the NBA’s players the worst official of all.
A pair of former Sixers recently made their feelings about the issue of in-game bias from officials known:
Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner say the NBA is rigged pic.twitter.com/buFuHK9bzS— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) August 22, 2023
So maybe Lewis was favoring Celtics games, maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was subconsciously biased knowing his family was cheering on a team who, let’s face it, might have a good record against any ref since they’re always in contention. Maybe Lewis was operating his own burner or maybe it was a family member. Maybe there are far more salacious materials the league uncovered in the process and that’s why he’s suddenly retiring, thereby closing the investigation. I guess we’ll never know because of... reasons.
Fan trust should be a higher priority than it has been. Stories like this one won’t help quiet conspiracy theorists who aren’t always right but were once dead on the money about refs like Tim Donaghy.
Woj tweeted that the league found that the Sixers were disadvantaged 13 times in a closeout home game in which they led with under five minutes remaining. Had they won that would have sent them to the Conference Finals. What if the calls had broken even? What if the home team received a major benefit from the zebras? Then in the next game, the league scheduled Lewis and Foster to ref Game 7. Now Lewis will never call another game and we’re really all left to wonder why.
And it’s all totally fine now because Lewis retired, I guess.