Behind every powerful man there may also be a powerful and social-media-savvy woman.
That may be the case in the crazy saga unfolding in Philadelphia, where the Sixers are investigating if GM Bryan Colangelo was operating up to five fake burner Twitter accounts that defended him while ripping players and revealing sensitive team information. In the lastest wild twist, internet sleuths connected some of those accounts to a phone number used by Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini.
One Twitter user found the evidence, “When you type Bryan Colangelo's wife's # into the Twitter reset form,” according to a Barstool Sports blogger.
Crossing Broad blogger Kyle Scott backed that up with a screenshot taken by another user that shows an account recovery prompt with Bottini’s email address and a similar phone number ending in “91.” Deeper digging found that some tweets posted by one of the accounts were published at the same time Colangelo conducted a press conference in February 2017, which backs up Colangelo’s claim that he’s innocent.
Colangelo admitted to owning one of the Twitter accounts in question, but that one never posted anything. He has denied knowing about the other more vociferous accounts that have defended him, from his basketball moves to the collars he prefers on his shirts.
“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 The Ringer, which broke the story Tuesday night. “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.”
Colangelo indicated to Yahoo Sports Wednesday that he may be the target of a scam, texting reporter Jordan Schultz that “Someone’s out to get me … This is clearly not me.”
The Sixers are in the process (no pun intended) of conducting an internal investigation into the matter. Whoever was posting on those burner accounts criticized players like Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Nerlens Noel, and insinuated Jahlil Okafor failed a physical ahead of a trade that fell apart. They also ripped Sixers coach Brett Brown and former GM Sam Hinkie.
If indeed Colangelo’s wife was behind those burner accounts, it would not be the first time an executive’s better half anonymously defended her husband online.
Last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s wife admitted to running a fake Twitter account that defended her husband, challenging trolls and reporters who were critical of him. Jane Skinner Goodell fessed up when the Wall Street Journal made the connection, and the burner account was shut down.
"It was a REALLY silly thing to do and done out of frustration — and love," she said. "As a former media member, I'm always bothered when the coverage doesn't provide a complete and accurate picture of a story. I'm also a wife and a mom. I have always passionately defended the hard-working guy I love—and I always will. I just may not use Twitter to do so in the future!"
That might be sound advice for more than just Mrs. Goodell right now.