Never tweet. At least not from a burner account.
Last week, The Ringer published an extensive report on the suspicious connections between Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations and general manager Bryan Colangelo and five burner accounts on Twitter that sent out numerous tweets criticizing other NBA executives, the behavior of current and former Sixers players, and leaking privileged medical information about said players. The tweets sent shockwaves through the NBA.
Today Colangelo resigned from his positions with the 76ers.
The scandal placed Colangelo — a member of what is widely considered the first family of the NBA, alongside his father Jerry Colangelo, the former owner of the Phoenix Suns and director of USA Basketball — in the middle of the biggest scandal to hit the NBA in years. Among other targets, the tweets sent by those burner accounts criticized 76ers franchise player Joel Embiid, the team’s first round draft pick Markelle Fultz, former player Jahlil Okafor, and fellow GMs around the league.
The biggest scandal to hit the NBA in years
Although Colangelo denied having control of four of those accounts — he admitted to owning one of the more innocuous accounts that didn’t tweet sensitive information — the Philadelphia 76ers ownership group promptly announced it was opening an independent investigation into the matter.
While a few critical tweets may seem innocuous to some, for the Sixers, they threaten to damage the upcoming offseason of a team with a decent chance to land NBA superstar LeBron James, sign other key free agents like Paul George, and keep their young nucleus of talented players happy as they continue to pursue an NBA championship. The leader of basketball operations not being able to keep team secrets in-house would only dampen the appeal of the Sixers for free agents looking for a new team, no matter how young or talented the team is.
Today the Sixers’ owners released the results of the investigation: the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP said that while it determined Colangelo was the source of the information leaked in the tweets, he did not run the four burner accounts — Barbara Bottini, Colangelo’s wife, did.
“The evidence supports the conclusion that Ms. Barbara Bottini, Mr. Colangelo’s wife, established the Twitter accounts and posted content on those accounts,” the law firm said in a statement. “When interviewed, Ms. Bottini admitted establishing and operating the accounts. Forensic evidence corroborates her admissions.”
The statement went on to point out that Bottini was not cooperative with the investigation, as she executed a factory reset on her iPhone in an attempt to delete evidence before turning in her device for review. “Our investigation was limited and impeded by certain actions taken by Ms. Bottini, including her decision to delete the contents of her iPhone by executing a factory reset of the device prior to surrendering it for forensic review,” the statement said.
“I had no knowledge of or involvement in the Twitter activity conducted by my wife.”
Following the Sixers’ announcement of Colangelo’s “resignation,” the longtime executive wasted no time in releasing his own statement in which he promptly hung his wife out to dry, denying that he engaged in any reckless conduct. “While I am grateful that the independent investigation conducted by the 76ers has confirmed that I had no knowledge of or involvement in the Twitter activity conducted by my wife, I vigorously dispute the allegation that my conduct was in any way reckless,” Colangelo said. “At no point did I ever purposefully or directly share any sensitive, non-public, club-related information with her.”
Colangelo continued (burning down everything in his wake), “Her actions were a seriously misguided effort to publicly defend and support me, and while I recognize how inappropriate these actions were, she acted independently and without my knowledge or consent. Further, the content she shared was filled with inaccuracies and conjecture which in no way represent my own views or opinions.”
In the span of less than 10 days, Colangelo went from a universally respected, two-time NBA executive of the year, to an unemployable man who took no responsibility for his mistakes, threw his wife under the bus, and then backed over her in an attempt to clear his name — an impossible feat to accomplish on the day you
get fired resign after leaking sensitive information. All because of some tweets.