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Ref sues AP, writer over Twitter blast

March 16, 2011

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Veteran NBA referee William Spooner sued the Associated Press and AP sportswriter Jon Krawczynski over a Twitter message suggesting he intentionally made a bad call to make up for a previous bad call that went against the Timberwolves. In the second period of the Jan. 24 Rockets-Timberwolves game, 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 federal lawsuit filed in Minneapolis. 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 won, 129-125. Spooner, who claims the tweet led to a disciplinary investigation by the NBA, is asking for damages of more than $75,000 plus a court order to remove the statement from Krawczynski’s Internet postings. 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.’’ . . . Rockets guard Terrence Williams is expected to miss a week after undergoing minor surgery yesterday to relieve lower abdominal distress.

Fans protest in Montreal for Pacioretty Hockey fans gathered outside Montreal’s Bell Centre before last night’s game against Washington to protest the NHL’s decision not to suspend Boston’s Zdeno Chara for his hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty last week. Fans chanted, waved placards denouncing NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and signed petitions against hockey violence at a rally in the wake of a hit that sidelined one of their players. Organizers said about 1,000 people signed a petition against hockey violence that will be sent to Bettman. Chara has said he didn’t intend to injure Pacioretty . . . Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger had successful surgery to repair a small fracture on his right hand. He is expected to miss 3-4r weeks. Pronger first injured the hand on Feb.24 against the Islanders when he blocked a shot . . . Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will be out six months.

Galaxy top Sounders in MLS opener Los Angeles midfielder Juninho beat Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller on a 25-yard shot inside the near post in the 58th minute, and the Galaxy opened the Major League Soccer season with a 1-0 win over the Sounders at Seattle. . . Swiss striker Blaise Nkufo cut ties with the Sounders just hours before their season opener with the Galaxy . . . Star forward Abby Wambach and top goalkeeper Hope Solo are on the US roster for the national women’s team’s first match in England, part of a 20-day training camp in the United Kingdom for the Americans as they prepare for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Germany.

Leaders at USOC offer to help Japan Leaders at the US Olympic Committee have reached out to their counterparts in Japan to offer assistance in the wake of the earthquake that has killed thousands there. CEO Scott Blackmun said from Atlanta he had sent letters to the leader of Japan’s Olympic organizing committee offering help but has not yet received a response. The disaster has forced the postponement, and possibly the cancellation, of the figure skating world championships that were scheduled to begin next Monday in Tokyo . . . North Korea’s gymnasts are still barred from the 2012 London Olympics as punishment for age falsification, despite the country’s reform efforts. North Korea asked the International Gymnastics Federation for leniency last month after firing the president of its Gymnastics Association, its international director and her secretary, and banning them from gymnastics.

Cuche quashes retirement rumors Swiss skier Didier Cuche ended rumors he’s ready to retire, pledging to return next season. The three-time World Cup downhill champion said he had “great motivation’’ to keep skiing on the eve of the season’s final meet. Cuche can win his fourth World Cup downhill title — second only to Austrian great Franz Klammer’s five — with a victory today. Swiss media speculated the 36-year-old Cuche would quit after a dispute with World Cup race director Guenter Hujara last week . . . Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic rolled on at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., easily winning third-round matches while Kim Clijsters retired with a painful shoulder. Women’s top seed Caroline Wozniacki beat Alisa Kleybanova, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 ensuring the Dane will retain her No. 1 world ranking . . . New research conducted for the US Anti-Doping Agency finds that Americans rank the use of performance-enhancing drugs as the most serious problem facing sports today . . . Runners for the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, will have until midnight next Tuesday to register for one of 1,750 bibs available through the lottery, which will be drawn next Wednesday. Runners can sign up at