This one’s just confusing. In the age where a person can hide behind a digital persona, it’s hard to understand why people in the position of power do so. Even President Trump still has his Twitter account which has created a windstorm with every tweet. Others do it because of a perceived lack of power – It’s really easy to be someone that you’re really not, when you’re behind the keyboard, and not in the presence of real people.
The case of Brian Colangelo and his “burner” Twitter accounts is confusing and very interesting. Bryan Colangelo is the current President of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. The same 76ers that made a decent playoff run and have drastically improved over the last few seasons. Colangelo, previously the President of Basketball Operations for the Toronto Raptors, was also the recipient of the 2007 Executive of the Year award, following a strong season by the Raptors leading to the Atlantic Division title. Praised as a savvy and experienced NBA executive, Colangelo’s name was attributed with success. So why would someone with this reputation feel the need to use social media accounts that were not his own?
A collection of Twitter accounts has criticized Philadelphia 76ers players and disclosed sensitive information about the team. What does that have to do with Bryan Colangelo? An investigation by @bdetrick: https://t.co/sUn6m3nkBG
— The Ringer (@ringer) May 30, 2018
The reports coming out are that the generic accounts, not directly linked to Colangelo in any way, were used to do everything from criticizing players, comment on coaches, and comment on items not even related to his team. There were comments regarding Rookie Markelle Fultz and All-Star Joel Embiid. There was public criticism of Raptors President Masai Ujiri. One of the accounts allegedly telegraphed the trade that would help the Sixers acquire the first overall pick in the 2017 draft. These allegations, along with several other factors, have led some to believe that Colangelo was using the accounts to manipulate the media and voice his opinions anonymously.
An anonymous tip, ironically from a generic Twitter account, stated that this individual had found patterns in follows, likes, and comments in five Twitter accounts that Colangelo is accused of using. The five Twitter accounts included one that silently followed media members, player agents and 76ers’ staff. Other accounts were more active, tweeting and responding to fans and comments. Some were more active than others, with some being active up to the last week of May. Following this anonymous tip, the accounts were questioned with the organization directly, and after some additionally questionable activity, lead to a formal investigation by the team.
For what it’s worth, Colangelo is denying any knowledge of the accounts, except for one. He claims he used the Twitter account @phila1234567 to stay in tune with the climate of the media and the team’s fanbase. His statement reads:
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.
As this story is still developing, there will be more to unfold, but at this point, you can start to draw your own conclusions. This has sent ripples throughout the league, just as the NBA Finals are set to begin. His players are showing some support, stating that they will wait for the truth to come out before making judgement. For a league constantly working to protect and improve its image, this is the latest in a number of social media blunders that have gained widespread media coverage.
More to come…