In one of the more bizarre developments of the 2017-2018 NBA season, a new investigative report has linked Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Bryan Colangelo to five anonymous Twitter accounts that were used to rip players on his own team and even reveal sensitive and private medical information about current and former Philadelphia players. The accounts were also used to joust with members of the media and defend Colangelo from media and fan criticism.
The new report by the sports and entertainment news site The Ringer says that Colangelo may have used Twitter accounts with the handles @phila1234567, @AlVic40117560, @Honesta34197118, @Enoughunkownso1, and as recently as just last week @s_bonhams. But the only one of the five that Colangelo, who issued a statement to The Ringer on Tuesday, would admit to owning was the @phila1234567 account which followed several NBA personalities, but never posted a tweet of its own.
While the @AlVic40117560 account was shuttered in May 2017 after actively posting since April of the previous year, the other three accounts remained active. But those three accounts — which took shots at such current and former Sixers as Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Markelle Fultz and Jahlil Okafor — were suddenly switched to “private” as soon as TheRinger reporter Ben Detrick contacted the 76ers to inquire about the mysterious Twitter feeds.
Colangelo denied using any of the Twitter accounts other than @phila1234567, in a statement to The Ringer.
“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news. While I have never posted anything whatsoever on social media, I have used the @Phila1234567 Twitter account referenced in this story to monitor our industry and other current events,” Colangelo said in the statement quoted by UPROXX. “This storyline is disturbing to me on many levels, as I am not familiar with any of the other accounts that have been brought to my attention, nor do I know who is behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”
One of the accounts, according to Bleacher Report, described Noel as a “selfish punk” who was “acting like a vulture.” Colangelo traded Noel to the Dallas Mavericks in February 2017. Another tweet alleged that Okafor had failed a physical exam, destroying Colangelo’s chances to trade him to the New Orleans Pelicans.
And in another tweet from one of the “burner” (anonymous and disposable) accounts, whoever wrote the tweet ridiculed Embiid for having “danced like a fool” at a rap concert at a time when the Philadelphia center was sidelined with a knee injury. The Twitter account also accused Embiid, who was selected by previous 76ers GM Sam Hinkie with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, of “mocking his team.”
According to ESPN NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowksi, Colangelo denied making the statements about Embiid, when Embiid confronted him about the tweets.
“I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that,” Embiid told the ESPN reporter. “He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad.”
Wojnarowski, on his own Twitter account, expressed skepticism about Colangelo’s denial that the insulting tweets were written by him.
“Here’s one of his biggest problems in disputing Ringer story,” the reporter wrote. “Those tweets reflected not only private team biz, but launched personal beefs/jealousies/frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside 76ers.”
Colangelo, 52, was hired by the 76ers in 2016. He is the son of former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo.