76ers’ Colangelo denies secret Twitter campaign

Bryan Colangelo has been named the NBA’s Executive of the Year twice. (Reuters pic)

PHILADELPHIA: Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo found himself in the middle of a social-media controversy on Tuesday night.

TheRinger.com reported that a source pointed the website to five anonymous Twitter accounts from which Colangelo allegedly criticised his team’s players, coaches, and former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie.

One of the accounts also reportedly passed along private medical information about then-Sixers centre Jahlil Okafor as well as gossip about other players, including star centre Joel Embiid.

Colangelo admitted that one of the five accounts was his, but he denied knowledge of the other four. However, TheRinger.com put together a detailed list of circumstantial evidence making the case that all of the accounts were controlled by Colangelo — including the fact that three of the accounts immediately switched from public to private last week after the reporter told the team of his suspicions without mentioning those three accounts.

“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news,” Colangelo said in a statement to TheRinger.com. “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.”

Embiid, speaking to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, said he heard by phone from Colangelo on Tuesday, with the team executive denying the report.

“I talked to him and he said that he didn’t say that,” Embiid said. “He called me just to deny the story. Gotta believe him until proven otherwise. If true, though, that would be really bad.”

Embiid then sent a tongue-in-cheek tweet to one of Colangelo’s alleged burner accounts, writing, “Joel told me that @samhinkie IS BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU @AlVic40117560 #BurnerAccount”

Colangelo won the NBA Executive of the Year Award in 2004-05 when he was with the Phoenix Suns and in 2006-07 when he was with the Toronto Raptors. One of the alleged burner accounts took shots at Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

Colangelo, 52, joined the 76ers in April 2016, with his father, longtime NBA and USA Basketball executive Jerry Colangelo, also in a management role with the team at the time.

The Twitter hullabaloo broke on the same day that the 76ers reportedly handed a three-year contract extension to coach Brett Brown in the wake of the team’s 42-victory gain this year and a trip to the second round of the playoffs.