NBA referee sues sports writer over tweet

Awww, it is a dog in a referee shirt

An NBA referee has sued the Associated Press and one of its sports reporters in federal court over a tweet.

Bill Spooner, a 22-year NBA veteran, claims that AP sports writer Jon Krawcynski defamed him by tweeting the following:

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

Mr. Krawczynski tweeted this message while he was covering the Jan. 24 Rockets-Timberwolves game.

On March 14, NBA referee William Spooner fired back by filing a federal lawsuit in Minnesota.  The suit alleges a single count of defamation and seeks $75,000 in damages.  All this for a tweet made during a game griping about officiating.

On March 15, NBA spokesman Tim Frank released this statement on the suit:

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.

So, Commissioner David Stern and the NBA aren’t about to join in this stupid lawsuit.  It seems that Mr. Stern remembers enough from his lawyer days to know that Mr. Krawczynski’s tweet was not defamatory.  Ultimately, the referee’s suit should be thrown out.

But in the meantime, all sports reporters probably will be a little more cautious about what they tweet and report. Mr. Krawczynski, notably, stopped tweeting since the suit was filed.

So, even if the court throws out this lawsuit, the ref probably has achieved his goal of getting some press and shutting up a reporter.

3/21 UPDATE — Jon Krawcynski is back on twitter.

Siouxsie says, “illegitimi non carborundum.”  Good luck! 

Photo Credit:  Camera Slayer

A copy of the complaint is here.

Source:  NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk


~ by siouxsielaw on March 16, 2011.

One Response to “NBA referee sues sports writer over tweet”

  1. […] referee sues sports writer over tweet” [Siouxsie Law] “Lessons from Dan Snyder’s Libel Suit” [Paul Alan Levy/CL&P, […]

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