Report: 76ers' Bryan Colangelo linked to secret Twitter accounts criticizing players, coaches and league executives

It appears that Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo may have used a series of secret Twitter accounts to criticize players, NBA coaches — including his own coach Brett Brown — and other  league executives, and disclose sensitive team information, according to a report from The Ringer on Tuesday night.

The report, from The Ringer’s Ben Detrik, details five different Twitter accounts that an unnamed source who “worked in artificial intelligence” tipped Detrik off about in February. After months of investigating and tracking the accounts’ movements, Detrik reached out to the 76ers last week asking for comments.

Soon after, the accounts went dark.

From The Ringer:

Since [discovering the accounts], we have scrutinized and archived those accounts in an attempt to verify the source’s claims that the longtime NBA executive has been using them as a platform to:

 

  • Criticize NBA players, including Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel
  • Publicly debate the decisions of his own coaching staff, as well as critique former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri
  • Telegraph the 2017 trade in which the Sixers acquired the no. 1 overall pick that would become Markelle Fultz
  • Disclose nonpublic medical information about Okafor and gossip about Embiid and Fultz to members of the national and Philadelphia media

Colangelo confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that one account, @phila1234567, was his after Detrik reached out for comment again.

That account is protected and doesn’t actively tweet. Colangelo, though, denied in a statement that any of the other four accounts detailed in the report were his or that he had anything to do with them, calling the storyline “disturbing to me on many levels.”

See Colangelo through his career: 

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Philadelphia 76ers president Bryan Colangelo
PHOENIX - 2000: Phoenix Suns General Manager Bryan Colangelo talks to the media during a press conference in 2000 at the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2000 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX - JULY 14: President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo of the Phoenix Suns speaks to the media on July 14, 2004 during a press conference introducing Steve Nash as the newest member of the team at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2004 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Raptor President and CEO, Bryan Colangelo, photographed in his office at the Ait Canada Centre in dowtown Toronto Monday, October 26th, 2009. (Photo by Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - MAY 23: President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors Bryan Colangelo poses with a ball after the the Raptors were awarded the number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery on May 23, 2006 at the NBA Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO - OCTOBER 2: President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo of the Toronto Raptors poses during NBA Media Day on October 2, 2006 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO - JULY 12: Jason Kapono of the Toronto Raptors and Raptors President and GM Bryan Colangelo pose at a press conference covering Kapono's signing to the Raptors on July 12, 2007 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2007 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO - JULY 9: President and general manager Bryan Colangelo of the Toronto Raptors poses with Jermaine O'Neal at Air Canada Centre on July 9, 2008 in Toronto, Canada. Jermaine O'Neal was aquired by the Toronto Raptors via trade from the Indiana Pacers. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2008 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
TORONTO - OCTOBER 28: Jose Calderon #8 of the Toronto Raptors accepts the award for the NBA Free Throw Champion for the 2008/2009 season handed to him by General Manager Bryan Colangelo before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on October 28, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
June 25, 2008 Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo at Air Canada Centre having a pre draft press conference. Toronto Star/Michael Stuparyk (Photo by Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 9: Bryan Colangelo ,President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, answers questions about his own contract with the MLSE to The Star's Cathal Kelly. Rene Johnston/ Toronto Star (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO - JUNE 21: Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo introduces Dwayne Casey as the new head coach of the Raptors on June 21, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photos by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - MAY 17: Toronto Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo looks on during the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery at the Studios at NBA Entertainment on May 17, 2011 in Secaucus, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 24: General Manager Bryan Colangelo attends a press conference after the Philadelphia 76ers introduce Ben Simmons and Timoth�Luwawu-Cabarrot from the 2016 NBA Draft on June 24, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 24: General Manager Bryan Colangelo, Timoth�Luwawu-Cabarrot, Owner Joshua Harris and Ben Simmons attend a press conference after being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2016 NBA Draft on June 24, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
CAMDEN, NJ- SEPTEMBER 23: Jerryd Bayless of the Philadelphia 76ers and President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo talk at the official opening of The Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex on September 23, 2016 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 23: Joshua Harris and Bryan Colangelo of the Philadelphia 76ers introduce the overall number one pick Markelle Fultz at the Sixers Training Complex on June 23, 2017 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant /NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 03: Bryan Colangelo talks to the media during the announment of the unveiling of the Doctor J sculpture on April 3, 2018 at the Legends Walk at the practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 9: Bryan Colangelo of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics on May 9, 2018 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
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“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news,” Colangelo said. “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.”

He stood by his statement on Tuesday night, too, telling Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania that he has no knowledge of “motives or origin” of the allegations.

Colangelo, 52, was hired by the 76ers in April 2016.

Joel Embiid’s reaction

Joel Embiid was also criticized by the accounts linked to Colangelo. The Philadelphia big man didn’t take to kindly to the allegations that the Twitter troll was a high-ranking member of the 76ers organization, either.

He tweeted at one of the accounts linked to Colangelo, too, and brought up Sam Hinkie, the former general manager for the Sixers.

“Joel told me that @SamHinkie IS BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU,” Embiid wrote, adding the hashtag #BurnerAccount.

He even started liking tweets from the burner accounts that were criticizing him.

Embiid did tell ESPN on Tuesday night that he spoke with Colangelo on the phone, where he again denied the allegations.

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

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