Bryan Colangelo Burner Accounts: Why Is The 76ers President Criticizing His Players?

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Another day, another bizarre NBA rabbit hole to fall down. In a story posted just past 9 PM ET on May 29, The Ringer‘s Ben Detrick revealed that Philadelphia 76ers team president Bryan Colangelo is, more likely than not, the owner and operator of a handful of incriminating Twitter burner accounts. Colangelo has, allegedly, used these accounts to disparage his own players, former colleagues, disgraced-slash-celebrated Sixers ex-team president Sam Hinkie, and anyone who’d dare criticize his shirt collars. He’s also used the platform to disclose private medical information about players, insider information on trades, and gossip. The story came on the heels of an evening rich with 76ers news — head coach Brett Brown agreed to a contract extension, and Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons is apparently now dating Kendall Jenner — but nothing could distract from this strange, damning tale.


Seriously?

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On one hand, it’s not entirely preposterous that a wealthy white man with a dream job would resort to anonymous social media to air his grievances and be publicly obnoxious. On the other hand, Colangelo had plenty of examples to learn from: Kevin Durant was caught doing something similar last September, and Jane Skinner Goodell, wife of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, was exposed a month later.


The 76ers have since launched an independent investigation into the Twitter accounts. In an official statement, the organization said,

An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday morning that Colangelo has been attempting to contact those whom he allegedly vilified via these accounts. Current 76ers Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, former 76ers Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri drew his ire, according to Detrick. Embiid, according to Woj, said, “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.”


Detrick links five total accounts —@phila1234567@AlVic40117560@Honesta34197118@Enoughunkownso1, and @s_bonhams — to Colangelo, one of which (@s_bonhams) had been active as recently as May 22. Detrick approached the 76ers with two of the usernames, @phila1234567 and @AlVic40117560, that same day. Interestingly, later that afternoon, the three other accounts were switched from public to private, even though they had not been brought to the 76ers’ attention.
In a statement issued on the day of May 29, Colangelo admitted to using one:

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.

The @Phila1234567 is the only one of the five which never shared original tweets. It was a blank profile, and presented itself no doubt as a decent cover-up. But one of the accounts that “went dark” also unfollowed 37 users with indubitable ties to Colangelo himself: his son’s college basketball teammates, his son’s high school basketball coach, and Colangelo’s former agent.


Libeling His Young Players

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In February 2017, the 76ers attempted to trade Jahlil Okafor, but could not make the right deal. Okafor remained on the team until December, when he was shipped to Brooklyn in exchange for Trevor Booker. But one of Colangelo’s burner accounts spent a lot of time and energy @replying Philadelphia-based sports journalists, begging them to ask Okafor and the 76ers about failed physicals. When Okafor finally left Philadelphia, Colangelo via @Enoughunknownso1 replied to tweets by Wojnarowski with “Last year he was traded and sent back because he didn’t pass physicals. He asked FO not to let the info out…Still the FO is not leaking the truth to save face, Okafor abusing that. If the truth came out Okafor would be the one looking bad.”

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Following the trade of Nerlens Noel in February 2017, Colangelo via @Enoughunknownso1 called Noel a “selfish punk” and accused him of “behaving like a vulture” for seeking a pay day. According to the same account, Noel was ultimately traded because Brett Brown didn’t like him. That November, the account posted, “Bad for locker room. Once again Colangelo protected coach and got [email protected] on for it. Bc is class act not a bad guy.” Even this April, another account, @s_bonhams, complained, “Do you remember how Noel ELECTED sto have hand surgery at the beginning of the season? … Then he went down south to rehab (did not stay with team and teammates) and was caught playing laser tag instead of being careful?”


The only remaining public account with a history of tweeting, @AlVic40117560, shows a series of complaints about Joel Embiid in February 2017. At the time, Embiid had been ruled out for the remainder of the 2016-17 season with a meniscus tear. Even though Colangelo allowed Embiid to play in a nationally televised game against the Houston Rockets after the injury had already been afflicting Embiid, he was disgusted that Embiid would dance onstage at a Meek Mill concert in the following weeks.


He also accused Embiid of hiding the injury. @AlVic40117560 accosted journalists, requesting that Embiid be “called out on this”. Since then, Colangelo’s alleged accounts grew increasingly hostile towards Embiid, once calling for him (via @Honesta34197118) to be traded for Kristaps Porzingis because Porzingis is “such a smarter player.”


@Enoughunknownso1 said recently, “I am sure it is hard for him ‘to process’ the fact, that this is now Ben’s team. So he is acting up. This ego foul is costing us big!” and has also accused Embiid of being lazy, selfish, arrogant, and distracted. @s_bonhams predicted, “Ben is going to be better than [email protected] less distracted by models and social media.” This past January, Colangelo via @s_bonhams directed a tweet at Simmons and Robert Covington’s official Twitter pages, “I am not voting for Joel, but I am voting for Ben at every change I get … I love his intensity, his passion and the pride for his team. Joel is a big selfish baby, not my leader anymore.”

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The mystery behind Markelle Fultz’s rookie year was solved by Colangelo via @s_bonhams, or so he thought. In December 2017, Colangelo accused Fultz’s trainer, Keith Williams, of messing with Fultz’s psychology by way of his closeness with Markelle: “If somebody would care to go look for the story of what happened with his so called mentor/father figure… it would explain a lot about the shoulder and Fultz ‘ state of mind.”
The account seems to mock Williams and Fultz’s relationship, placing emphasis on the “mentor/father figure” relationship: “The so call mentor tried to force him to change the shot. Tapes have surfaced of the guy making Markelle 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.” It’s not clear whether Colangelo is complaining more so about the shooting, Williams’s presence in Fultz’s training, or the very nature of their relationship.
In February 2018, @s_bonhams again took aim at Fultz and his family, possibly sharing private information he had no right to: “Supposedly he just had some really traumatic family personal experience which really messed him up, probably just needs some time to process (☺) and heal.”


Insecurity Is a Hell of a Drug

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Among defaming current and former players, Colangelo via these accounts takes credit for salvaging the franchise by drafting Simmons. He never speaks poorly on Simmons’s name. His disdain for Sam Hinkie is striking, and accused him, via @Enoughunknownso1, of being a martyr. In January 2017, @AlVic40117560 said, “BC has done nothing but clean up hinkie’s mess.” The accounts are equally overwhelmingly pro-Colangelo and conspicuously anti-Hinkie.


Before his stint with the 76ers, Colangelo worked in the Raptors’ front office, where he hired Masai Ujiri and eventually promoted him to assistant GM. Ujiri would eventually replace Colangelo as president of basketball operations in 2013. In February 2017, @AlVic40117560 expressed an inordinate deal with frustration with Ujiri for someone so preoccupied with the 76ers. He accuses Ujiri of not taking responsibility for the Raptors’ woes and points out his contract worth as an aberration. If the account does not belong to Colangelo, why would the 76ers-obsessed user be concerned with very specific Raptors issues?


Colangelo, via @AlVic40117560, took exception to Gabrielle Union’s own response to Martellus Bennett being criticized for choosing to not attend the Trump White House to celebrate a SuperBowl win. He accuses her and husband Dwyane Wade of being “rude nasty” to a child during the Beijing Olympics. Apart from the baseless accusations, Colangelo shoots himself in the foot — at the time of the 2008 Olympics, his father Jerry was the USA Basketball managing director, and Bryan was in Beijing as well. However, Union was not.


Union and Wade have since responded.


The Magic of Twitter


After Detrick’s article started to make waves, Twitter-savvy readers decided to dig deeper. By attempting to log in to the alleged burner accounts, @SixersAdam used the “reset password” option and pointed out that each account has the same linked phone number ending in 91.


Tom Moore, a Pennsylvania-based columnist for the Bucks County Courier Times, confirmed that the number ending in 91 is consistent with Colangelo’s phone number.
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The email address linked to the accounts with the 91 numbers was eventually revealed to be bp*********@g****.***, likely [email protected] Another user dug deeper, attempting to log into GMail with that address, revealing a second address, bry***********@si****.com, likely [email protected]


@Cole_Kev points out that the mole who anonymously leaked information on these burner accounts to Detrick may well be Hinkie himself, whose career has pivoted to artificial intelligence.


@_SeanDonnelly points out that @AlVic40117560 has a certain affinity for University of Chicago men’s basketball. Colangelo’s son plays for the team.


@NewmansBdayWish deduced that @SixersEnough could be the tipster.


All in all, this is a mess. There are far too many coincidences for these accounts to belong to anyone else. Colangelo could lose his job if he admits to being the face behind the defamatory posts, and frankly he might deserve it — how can you be trusted by your players, coaches, and organization at large if you’re on Twitter leaking inside information to the NBA Twitterverse? The evidence, while circumstantial, is incriminating. It would do Colangelo well to own up to his faux pas and take one on the chin.


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