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Frivolous lawsuit file: referee sues Wolves beat writer over tweet

Mar 15, 2011, 5:33 PM EDT

Scott Skiles, Bill Spooner Getty Images

UPDATE  5:33 pm: The NBA has addressed the issue, through the comments of spokesman Tim Frank (via SB Nation):

“We investigated the content of the tweet when it appeared, found it to be without substance, and informed Mr. Spooner that we considered the matter closed. We subsequently advised Mr. Spooner’s lawyer that we did not think suing a journalist over an incorrect tweet would be productive. Nevertheless, Mr. Spooner and his lawyer decided to commence this litigation and any future inquiries should be directed to Mr. Spooner’s lawyer.”

Basically, the NBA didn’t feel like taking on the Associated Press, but if Spooner wants to that’s his fight.

7:40 am: Your tax dollars hard at work, helping NBA refs get over their emotional scars.

NBA referee Bill Spooner (a 22-year NBA veteran) is suing Associated press reporter Jon Krawczynski for $75,000 for a tweet he sent in game, according to the AP. Which means Spooner had to go hunt this tweet out from a beat writer long after the game ended. Tad bit thin skinned there?

Let the AP tell us about the original incident.

According to Spooner’s suit, (Wolves coach Kurt) Rambis took umbrage with a foul called against his team in the second quarter of a Jan. 24 game against the Houston Rockets. Spooner then told an upset Rambis that he’d review the call at halftime.

Rambis asked how his team was supposed to get the two points back. While Spooner’s suit claims he didn’t respond to the Minnesota coach’s question, Krawczynski tweeted otherwise.

“Ref Bill Spooner told Rambis he’d ‘get it back’ after a bad call,” Krawczynski tweeted. “Then he made an even worse call on Rockets. That’s NBA officiating folks.”

Spooner’s suit says he was defamed. Krawczynski is standing behind his tweet, and the AP is standing behind him.

This is the definition of a frivolous lawsuit. Spooner, just a word of caution — the coffee at McDonalds is very hot. Just trying to save you from having to file another suit.

  1. jmclarkent - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    That is what you call an embarrassment, folks…

  2. gainesweaver - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:12 AM

    Nice post, but for the last two sentences. While I tend to agree with you and side with Krawczynski, this is definitely NOT a frivolous lawsuit. A frivolous lawsuit implies a lawsuit over something that is either petty or outlandish or both. Neither is present here.

    The reporter claims the ref effectively promised a coach to “make it up to him” for a bad call. The implication is that he was promising to make a bad call in the coach’s favor at some point. This goes straight to the heart of the integrity of the game–refs calling things consistently and honestly based on what actually happens. This calls the integrity of the referee into question. It is irrelevant whether the alleged libel took place on Twitter, in the New York Times or the Cleveland Plain Dealer, or even whether the ref had to “go find it”. IF the report is wrong, then the ref was libeled and is entitled to compensation for the damage done to his reputation. I happen to believe the reporter is likely telling the truth, but even if the reporter prevails, it doesn’t mean the suit is frivolous.

    This is classic he said/he said. It may be very difficult for either side to prove its case. It will boil down to who a jury believes.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    It is about freaking time that someone took issue with reporters’ self-serving shots at officials. Just made stuff up about a good man to sell papers. Tweet, tweet, tweet, it should be $750 million.

    • jstrizzle - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

      Tweeting doesn’t sell newspapers

    • denverhoopdreams - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:22 PM

      Really? Should every fan that self-serves shots at officials be sued too? We all know the NBA refs blow calls all the time. It’s nothing new. In fact, he should sue himself for being a official.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 16, 2011 at 7:50 AM

        The fans pay their money and can take all the shots they want. Reporters get in for free and make drunken self-serving tweets (ever see a reporter refuse free food or drink?).

  4. breesus504 - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I agree with your overall statement but the last part is retarded. The McDonalds law suit was about malicious corporate plans and hiding of details, not hot coffee. Some people have no idea what they are talking about….

  5. rapmusicmademedoit - Mar 15, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    the players should sue ref’s for some of those ridiculous foul calls, i can’t understand why you have three white refs and ten black players playing. Melo got called for five offensive fouls in three games, in a game against the Grizzlies the Knicks went to the foul line once while the Grizzlies went twenty two times thru
    three quarters at the time the knicks were leading by two points.

    • denverhoopdreams - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

      Man, you’re really all up in Melo’s jock strap since you got him. It’s funny that you Knicks fans come out of the word works when you get two superstars, but none of you stood behind Amare and how he was handling the team… which is looking a lot better than the MelMare era.

      • denverhoopdreams - Mar 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        wood works*

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