Philadelphia 76ers Investigating GM Bryan Colangelo After Report of Fake Twitter Accounts Criticizing Players

May 30, 2018, 4:22 PM UTC

A bizarre story involving fake Twitter accounts has prompted the Philadelphia 76ers to open a formal investigation following “serious allegations” against team general manager Bryan Colangelo.

Sports website The Ringer published an extensive report Tuesday night linking Colangelo to five different “burner” accounts on Twitter. The accounts in question criticized several of the Sixers’ own players, the team’s coaching staff, and NBA executives, and disclosed nonpublic team information regarding players’ health. According to an anonymous source who reached out to The Ringer claiming they used open-source data analysis to make the connection, the accounts “all have a pattern of likes, follows, and tweets which are EXTRAORDINARILY similar.”

Now, the Sixers are probing the claim. “The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter,” the team said in a statement. “We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”

When The Ringer presented some of its reporting to the Sixers, a team representative confirmed that one of the accounts did indeed belong to Colangelo, though he denied owning one of the other accounts linked to him. When The Ringer inquired once again, this time with the full scope of its reporting—including three of the five accounts The Ringer intentionally omitted in the first query—Colangelo responded with a statement.

“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,” Colangelo said.

“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 added.

The story sparked immediate outcry on Twitter following its publishing and invoked a response from one of the Sixers’ star players, Joel Embiid—who was the subject of criticism in some of Colangelo’s alleged accounts. He posted the following tweet shortly after the story broke:

Despite the jab on Twitter, Embiid maintained that he believed Colangelo’s denial of the story. “I talked to [Colangelo] 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.”