MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An NBA referee has sued The Associated Press and one of its sports writers over a Twitter message suggesting he intentionally made a bad call to make up for a previous bad call that went against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Minneapolis, veteran NBA referee William Spooner claimed AP sports writer Jon Krawczynski defamed him in the Twitter message, sent while he was covering the Jan. 24 Rockets-Timberwolves game.

In the second period, Spooner called a foul against a Timberwolves player. According to Spooner’s lawsuit, Wolves coach Kurt Rambis argued the call and Spooner told him he would review it at halftime. Rambis said that was fine, but asked how he was supposed to get the points back, according to the lawsuit.

Spooner says in the lawsuit that he didn’t respond to Rambis. But Krawczynski, seated courtside, posted a tweet that said, “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.”

The Rockets went on to win the game 129-125.

Spooner claims the Twitter message led to a disciplinary investigation by the NBA and that his professional reputation has been hurt.

Spooner has asked the court for damages of more than $75,000 plus a court order to remove the statement from Krawczynski’s Internet postings.

AP attorney Dave Tomlin said, “We believe all the facts we reported in our coverage of that game, in all media, were accurate.”

Tim Frank, the NBA’s senior vice president for basketball communications, said the league investigated the tweet and “found it to be without substance, and informed Mr. Spooner that we considered the matter closed.”

Frank said the NBA also advised Spooner’s attorney that the league didn’t think suing a journalist for posting a tweet it deemed incorrect would be productive.

A hearing date has not been set.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (8)
  1. WHAT????? says:

    If you have ever watched officials in the NBA this does not surprise me as they are amazingly bad. I hope this backfires on him and that he gets sued back.

  2. Wallace Johnson says:

    where a ref made’s a bad call to make up for a previous bad call i see it all the time basketball

  3. Victim Du Jour says:

    Laws aren’t allowed to restrict free speech. People are allowed to say what they want.

    1. Fred says:

      People are not allowed to say what they want all of the time. If I paid for a pop up to appear on the page every time your moniker showed saying that you are a shallow hateful person you could sue me for defamation. Likewise I could file charges if you threatened to blow up my house. See the nurse with the suicide patients. Patriot act allows them to throw you in jail if you were saying negative things about the President. Please read a little more and retain it.

  4. Tc Radiodj says:

    ROFL This “REF” wants $75.000 for a true statement? What defamation is in that statement? He made several bad calls. All ref’s do. Sounds like this ol timer wants to pad his retirement

    1. Ghost of Dolores Aguilar says:

      He may win, especially if it goes to a Hennepin County jury. Look up the recent Johnny Northside lawsuit. Truth is no longer a defense.

    2. Walker says:

      I would believe that it is because the writer posted the ref said “get it back” in reference to a n earlier call, which the ref would deny saying. The defamation is not that the ref made bad calls, it is that he was intentionally going to make a bad call.

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