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NBA exec linked to fake Twitter accounts that criticised his own player and leaked medical reports

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was linked with up to five accounts.

Bryan Colangelo during his time with the Raptors.
Bryan Colangelo during his time with the Raptors.
Image: The Canadian Press/PA Images

IN A BOMBSHELL report by Ben Detrick of The Ringer, Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has been linked to five anonymous Twitter accounts that were critical of the team’s players, took shots at other NBA executives, and even appeared to reveal the private medical information of a player.

The five accounts were discovered by an anonymous source who noticed a “bunch of weird tweets,” and then used an analysis tool that linked the accounts based on “commonalities including similarities in who the accounts followed and linguistic quirks,” according to Detrick.

Among the most damning tweets mentioned in the report, the accounts:

  • Criticised former 76ers player Jahlil Okafor and seemingly revealed previously unreported details of a trade that was cancelled because Okafor failed a physical. From one of the accounts: “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.”
  • Criticised current 76er Joel Embiid by referring to their star player as “a bit lazy,” “selfish,” and “acting like a tool.” From the accounts: “I am sure it is hard for him; the fact, that this is now Ben’s [Simmons] team. So he is acting up. This ego foul is costing us big!,” and “Ben is going to be better than Joel [and] less distracted by models and social media.”
  • One account went as far as to say it would trade Embiid for Kristaps Porzingis. From one of the accounts: “I am a Philly fan but [I'd] trade The process for The Unicorn in a heart bit. Such a smarter player.”
  • Criticised former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie. From the accounts: “I have no respect for Hinkie’s martyrdom bcs it is orchestrated by him behind the curtains via all the bloggers he cultivated with leaks.”
  • Praised Colangelo while criticizing Hinkie: From the accounts: “BC has done nothing but clean up hinkie’s mess. Hinkie got great pieces but could [not] make the puzzle work.”
  • Accused 76ers head coach Brett Brown of sabotaging the team by sitting No. 1 pick, Markelle Fultz. From one of the accounts: “I think that it would shorten Brett’s rope on ‘why we lost’ alibi. So Brett would rather keep him out.”
  • Criticised Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri who replaced Colangelo as GM of the club in 2013. From one of the accounts: “Nothing seems to fall on Ujiri’s shoulders. Why?” and “they are falling apart! Because nothing was done to make them a better team. Coasting by on ‘trustfund’ money.”

When Detrick contacted the 76ers about two of the accounts to see if Colangelo was running them, the team admitted he was behind one that had never tweeted, but denied responsibility for the second.

But in a damning turn of events, shortly after The Ringer contacted the team, the three accounts Detrick did not mention were quickly switched to “private” mode.

“That afternoon, within hours of the call, all three of the accounts I hadn’t discussed with the team switched from public to private, effectively taking them offline, including one (HonestAbe) that hadn’t been active since December.

“The Still Balling account, which had been tweeting daily, has not posted since the morning of the 22nd (I had already been following Still Balling with an anonymous account of my own, which allowed me to see activity after it went private).

“Since I contacted the Sixers, Still Balling has unfollowed 37 accounts with ties to Colangelo, including several of his son’s college basketball teammates, a former coach from his son’s high school, and an account that shares the same name as the agent Warren LeGarie, who has represented Colangelo in the past.”

According to the Detrick, the source said, “the three newest accounts followed 75 accounts in common, “roughly half of their total respective follows with another 52 accounts followed by two of the three.”

The exact numbers were not confirmed by The Ringer, but Detrick said the pattern fit what they had observed.

Among the accounts followed by the “Eric Jr” account are non-basketball accounts created by people with links to Colangelo, including the president and CEO of a company that Colangelo had reportedly invested. That account only had 52 other followers, and one was the account that the 76ers confirmed as belonging to Colangelo.

Colangelo later provided a statement to The Ringer vigorously denying any association with the other four 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.”

According to ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, some of the tweets revealed private team business and were consistent with things Colangelo has expressed previously in private.

“Maybe there’s an IT person who can prove it wasn’t Bryan Colangelo,” Wojnarowski wrote. “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.”

On two occasions, Detrick was also seemingly able to place the person behind the accounts in the same location as Colangelo, including a G League game and the Olympics.

You can read the entire report at The Ringer.

The 76ers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

- Cork Gaines, Business Insider

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