It’s 2018 and, as it turns out, investigative journalism is alive and well.
Late last night, The Ringer, a sports & pop culture website founded by Bill Simmons, dropped a bomb on the sports world, and anyone whose interest might be piqued by the type of salacious social media drama that could only occur in 2018.
Current, though soon to be former, Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo was “outed” as being personally responsible for a total of five secret “burner” accounts on Twitter that he used to disparage his players, divulge sensitive medical information about the team, openly debate strategy and potential trades, shift blame onto Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown (or basically anyone but himself), trash the GM who replaced him in Toronto, and, at every opportunity, promote himself—Bryan Colangelo—and his infinite wisdom.
I know what you’re thinking, let due process run its course, let the facts come out, surely there’s no way that this can be true. Even as I clicked on the links from the reputable website, my assumption was that this is nothing more than a ‘Sixers twitter’ rumor that, even if correct, would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore nothing more than an overnight PR fiasco.
But, the thorough evidence and air tight logic that is laid out in the article is iron-clad and damning. There is literally no conceivable possibility that someone else besides Bryan Colangelo could be behind these five accounts—none whatsoever. If you don’t believe me and have yet to read the article in its entirety (it’s long), take a read for yourself: The Curious Case of Bryan Colangelo and the Secret Twitter Account
If you don’t have the time or energy (or attention span) to read the entire piece then here are the highlights:
The Ringer was first tipped off to this from an anonymous user who claims to have a background in artificial intelligence. Here’s an excerpt from the article that details the information provided by the source:
… after noticing a “bunch of weird tweets” directed at Sixers writers, [the source] used an open-source data analysis tool to link five accounts through commonalities including similarities in who the accounts followed and linguistic quirks.
“They all have a pattern of likes, follows, and tweets which are EXTRAORDINARILY similar,” the source wrote in a direct message on Twitter. For example, the source explained, all five follow accounts tied to Sixers players, members of the Philly front office, and beat reporters who cover the team; Toronto Raptors writers; Canadian high school basketball; and University of Chicago basketball. They discuss the same topics, use strikingly similar phrasing, and, at times, have tweeted out identical media images. Some of those shared attributes were odd, such as a distaste for beards and “unknown sources.” According to the source’s findings, 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.
Obviously that information alone isn’t enough to convince most people, so The Ringer probed further:
On Tuesday, May 22, I emailed the Sixers and shared the names of two of the accounts, phila1234567 and Eric jr (I did not disclose our suspicions about the other three accounts, one of which, Still Balling, had been active earlier that day; I did this to see whether the partial disclosure would trigger any changes to the other accounts). On a follow-up call that day, Philadelphia’s media representative told me that he would ask Colangelo whether he had any information about the two accounts.
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.
I’ve compiled the circumstantial evidence into lists. Although they were alluded to above, here are some the common accounts that were followed by the five burners connected to Colangelo:
- Members of the Sixers organization
- CEO Scott O’Neil
- Random sales associates
- Members of the basketball media, both national and local
- He tweeted at everyone from Mark Zumoff and Keith Pompey, to nobody bloggers like myself
- University of Chicago men’s basketball accounts (his son plays there)
- Four of his son’s teammates
- His son’s high school basketball coach from Ontario—John-Paul Cavalluzzo
- His former agent, Warren LeGarie
- Lawrence Bain, a financial partner of his father (Jerry Colangelo)
- Holly Miklas, a known friend of Colangelo and his wife, and socialite in Toronto where BC used to work
But the most damaging part of this whole story, and the part that will obviously lead to his firing, are the content of his tweets.
Let’s start with Joel Embiid, who was a surprisingly frequent target. I’ve bolded the quotes for easier navigation. (Any typos are from the original tweets)
In a conversation that began with him saying “[I] Love RoCo” (Covington) he goes on to write, “If I had a medium size ladder I would love to knock some sense in Joel’s head right now. He is playing like a toddler having tantrums.”
He then tweets directly at Joel’s personal account, “Joel, you are just a kid, but why didn’t you tell docs knees hurt before Houston? You costed yrself (&us) 9+ games and play-offs.”
When talking about Embiid’s childish behavior on and off the court, he tweets at Derek Bodner, “He should be called out for this, nobody has the guts to do it.” (Apparently, Colangelo didn’t have the guts to call him out directly either) BC is obviously aware that Bodner is a prominent Sixers writer, who he knows has cache with the fan base.
Later, he writes, “I am a Philly fan but [I would] trade The process [Embiid] for The Unicorn [Porzingis] in a heart beat… Such a smarter player.” Here he is saying that he would trade Embiid for Kristaps Porzingis straight up. I’m sure that will go down well with JoJo.
Here, Colangelo invoked a variant of the “Not my President” mantra while mocking “the process” all in one tweet. You’re so clever, Bryan.
“I am sure it is hard for him ‘to process’ the fact, that this is now Ben’s [Simmons] team. So he is acting up. This ego foul is costing us big!” … “I love his intensity, his passion and the pride for his team. Joel is a big selfish baby, not my leader anymore.”
Beyond trashing the team’s best player, Colangelo seemed eager to spread sensitive medical information about just about everybody, however, Fultz and Jahlil Okafor (I never though I would type that name again) seem to take the brunt of it.
On Fultz and the saga of his broken jump shot and phantom injury:
“Nope *thumbs down emoji* 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 etch. The guy denies it as doesn’t want to say Y was forced out of kid’s life. Y nobody reports this”
However, the best tweets aren’t the ones that will get him fired, they’re the ones that serve to air out personal grievances and dive into petty disputes.
It’s no secret that Colangelo has actively been fighting the reputation of former GM and Process architect Sam Hinkie. Here is a screenshot of my favorite encounter:
*Note: Hinkie began teaching at Stanford (part-time) after leaving Philadelphia
I would imagine teaching at Stanford is more cushy than wherever it is that Bryan Colangelo is about to land (yes, he’ll be fired).
The most comical of all was when he favorites and retweeted the “Fake WIP Caller” account, who, for those that don’t know, is infamous for sending ironic tweets that mock the contradictory and senseless logic of Philly radio callers. Colangelo is oblivious to this fact, as he frequently promotes their content that satirically mocks him.
You can’t make this stuff up. If you thought Kevin Durant’s use of a burner account was petty, immature, self-conscious, and strikingly revealing then I’m not really sure what you call this.
For me, the only evidence that could prove these allegations any further would be a verbal confession from the man himself.
The tweets listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. He uses his burner accounts to attack fans who criticize him for his outfits and oversized collars — the dude tries to dress like a mafia don.
If you have a Twitter account I encourage you to dive into Sixers-Twitter and read the rest of his tweets.
The Sixers are in the midst of an “investigation” into these “serious” allegations. They will surely come to the same conclusion that I, and countless others have already come to: that Bryan Colangelo is literally the only person who could be responsible for these accounts. He will surely be fired, and will probably never work in the league again.
This is nothing short of sweet, sweet poetic justice for the way he, his father, and Adam Silver forced out Sam Hinkie a few years ago. While Sixers-Twitter will surely celebrate when BC is unceremoniously fired, I can’t imagine anyone enjoying this moment more than Hinkie himself.