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NBA Referee Bill Spooner and Associated Press Reach Settlement

Doug Pensinger

Since it looks like I wrote more about this story than anyone else on the planet, I suppose it is my duty to write of its conclusion as well. Bill Spooner, the NBA referee who sued the Associated Press and its reporter Jon Krawczynski for defamation per se, has reached a settlement agreement with the AP.

AP and NBA Referee Reach Settlement Agreement | Washington Post

If you recall, Spooner had sued the AP and its reporter over a Tweet that Krawcynski made during a game between the Rockets and Timberwolves. Krawcynski tweeted:

"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." - Krawczynski Twitter feed

Spooner sued the AP and the reporter under the doctrine of defamation per se, and under that doctrine, which is kind of an offshoot of defamation, Spooner actually had a puncher's chance at winning.

My original post examined what the doctrine of defamation was and how it might be interpreted:

NBA Referees and Defamation: A Burden in the League's Hands?

After the complaint was filed, we dug in deeper:

NBA Referees and Defamation Per Se: The Burden Shifts

One thing that became apparent was, via numerous mentions of former referee Tim Donaghy in the complaint, it was clear that Spooner was steadfast in his desire to disassociate himself from Donaghy and to clear his good name. He wanted to be seen as an honest ref and not simply the latest case of a referee to fall into unethical behavior.

It appears now that the AP has decided that fighting Spooner's lawsuit is not worth the trouble:

Referee William Spooner agreed to drop the suit, filed last March in Minneapolis, pending removal of the Jan. 24 tweet from Jon Krawczynski's Twitter account and a payment of $20,000 for Spooner's litigation costs.

The settlement money is meager; Spooner wanted his name cleared, and it looks like he won on that front. Good for him, and hopefully he can enjoy some peace of mind up until December 25th, when everybody is going to start complaining about the refs again.