On January 24th, AP sports writer Jon Krawczynski observed an NBA referee, Bill Spooner, tell a coach that he’d make up a bad call to his team, and posted a tweet:
Spooner claims that he never muttered those words, and Krawczynski swears he heard the conversation correctly. In either case, Spooner, a 22-year NBA veteran, was so inflamed over the tweet that he’s suing Krawczynski. According to ESPN, Spooner’s suit seeks over $75,000 in damages along with both an unpublishing and retraction of the statement on the grounds that the tweet is a defamatory accusation.
Now consider this: Krawczynski currently has 2,087 followers, and the game during which this occurred was the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets, two teams with a combined 51-85 record. What does this mean? No one was paying attention!
But Spooner didn’t want to let this tweet, which criticized his job performance, pass without a fight (and let’s face it, fans generally assume referees make bad calls and makeup calls all the time). Therefore he filed a lawsuit and ended up with feature coverage on the subject on ESPN, FoxSports, BizJournals.com, SB Nation, MinnPost.com and more. So now there are a lot more people aware of his bad calls (if the tweet is indeed true).
While this isn’t the first scenario of someone creating adding publicity around a tweet they want buried, it’s a good example of how to draw attention where you don’t want it.