76ers' Bryan Colangelo Issues Statement on Twitter Burner Account Allegations

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo speaks with members of the media during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility in Camden, N.J., Friday, May 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Bryan Colangelo issued a statement Tuesday after The Ringer's Ben Detrick published an extensive investigation regarding the Philadelphia 76ers general manager's alleged use of burner Twitter accounts to criticize players, head coach Brett Brown and executives.

The report, which details the trends of five different Twitter accounts, includes mention of an account with the handle @phila1234567. Colangelo confirmed that account, which is protected and does not actively tweet, belongs to him.

However, he denied that he was involved with any of the other accounts:

"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. 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."

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that Colangelo stood by not knowing the "motives or origin" of the accounts after the allegations surfaced.

76ers star Joel Embiid said Colangelo also called him to deny the allegations, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski: "I talked to him and he said that he didn't say that. He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true though, that would be really bad."

However, Wojnarowski explained why Colangelo's denial seems problematic:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Maybe there’s an IT person who can prove it wasn’t Bryan Colangelo, but here’s one of his biggest problems in disputing Ringer story: Those tweets reflected not only private team biz, but launched personal beefs/jealousies/frustrations that he’s shared inside and outside 76ers.

Detrick, whom an anonymous source tipped off to the accounts, reported that he contacted the Sixers asking about two of the five accounts: @phila1234567 and @AlVic40117560, which features the display name "Eric jr."

Following a discussion with the club's media representative, Detrick noted "all three of the accounts I hadn't discussed with the team switched from public to private."

The investigation found that the accounts "repeatedly disclosed potentially damaging information" about current and former Sixers players, including Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Markelle Fultz, and actively sought to defend Colangelo's reputation.

Specifically, one of the accounts said that the Sixers couldn't close a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans because Okafor failed a physical.

Separately, accounts referred to Noel—whom Colangelo traded to the Dallas Mavericks in February 2017—as a "selfish punk" who was "behaving like a vulture." The same accounts said Noel was traded because he had fallen out of favor with Brown.

Additionally, one of the accounts in question scolded Embiid for taking off his shirt and dancing at a Meek Mill concert when he was out because of a knee injury in February 2017.

"Too bad that Embiid danced like a fool and the whole disaster happened, next time he will think twice before mocking his team," the account wrote.

Embiid appeared to fire back at Colangelo after the allegations emerged Tuesday night:

Joel Embiid @JoelEmbiid

Joel told me that @samhinkie IS BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU @AlVic40117560 #BurnerAccount

The accounts also said Fultz, who missed 68 games because of a right shoulder injury, spent extended time on the shelf because his trainer, Keith Williams, tinkered with his shot.

"The so call mentor tried to force him to change the shot," the account wrote. "Tapes have surfaced of the guy making Markette shooting while sitting on a chair, while on his back on the floor etc. The guy denies it as doesn't want to say Y was forced out of kid's life. Y nobody reports this."