If This Bryan Colangelo Story Is True…
On Tuesday, May 29th, The Ringer published a story by Ben Detrick that investigates the potential relationship between the Philadelphia 76ers’ president of basketball operation, Bryan Colangelo, and five Twitter accounts.
You can find the story here.
When this story broke, it didn’t just break; it absolutely exploded and ignited the flying takes on NBA Twitter. The story is absolutely hilarious, even if it isn’t true, but it also comes right after a three-year contract extension was announced for Philly’s coach, Brett Brown. Following the development of this story will be so much fun and a great storyline over the NBA offseason. Now for a couple of thoughts on the whole ordeal. I also hereby dub this #TweetGate.
Honestly, this kind of story isn’t really that surprising. Besides the Kevin Durant self-tweeting, we haven’t had too many bizarre social media incidents with athletes or teams, which doesn’t really make sense considering the era we live in.
With the anonymity that Twitter or Instagram theoretically provides someone, a high-level basketball employee should be able to monitor the rumors floating around NBA Twitter with relative ease and anonymity. That alone is something that Colangelo admitted to doing, through a source, to Detrick.
But is using burner accounts and social media to defend yourself or push your own agenda really that far-fetched in 2018. With all of the crazy stuff we’ve seen on Twitter and in the news over the last couple of years, nothing is really that surprising anymore.
People that follow the NBA, whether it be the insiders at ESPN or the average fan on Twitter, it has been sort of understood that NBA, and other professional teams and organizations, release news and frame personnel moves in such a manner to either “push them under the rug” or display the organization in a positive manner.
And this Colangelo fiasco is really just an extension of that, even if it is an extreme extension, that is if it even is Colangelo behind all five Twitter accounts. Considering the weird position that Colangelo has been in succeeding Sam Hinkie in Philly, why wouldn’t he feel like he needed to prove/defend himself? Under Hinkie, the 76ers went 47–199, one of the worst three-year stretches in NBA history. With Colangelo as head of the basketball operations, the 76ers have gone 80–84; in 2017–2018 they went 52–30, winning five more games in one season than they did in three seasons under Hinkie’s stewardship.
Now, there are certain reasons for this. Hinkie was brought in to be the mastermind of an unprecedented teardown and rebuild of an NBA franchise. Hinkie stepped down in April 2016 because he felt that he could no longer “make good decisions on behalf of the investors in the Sixers” according to his resignation letter. That paved the way for Colangelo’s hire, after which he has made moves intended to maximize the Sixers chances of winning NOW.
The trade for Markelle Fultz was not a terrible decision. Instead, it should have been the final cog in a young, monstrous machine; one more young, dynamic ball handler to be side by side with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric. The move, at the time, seemed perplexing, even if there was some good rationale behind it.
What the Sixers likely should have done, and what “The Process” would have called for, was to stay put or trade down to maximize value and potential shots at drafting a great player. The decision, the rationale, and a thorough dissection of what the Sixers did or could have done is a discussion for another time.
The most damning thing for Colangelo, again if it’s all true, is the tweets about medical information and the tweets that slander Philly players. But again, that’s why it seems kind of believable. Almost all of those players, with the exception of Markelle Fultz, were brought in by Hinkie.
The accounts linked to Colangelo spent most of their time talking about Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid trashing them, but with Fultz (Colangelo’s pick) the accounts seemed to be trying to shift blame onto Fultz’s personal camp.
All of that would fit with a person bitter at the fame their predecessor is receiving when their first really big decision came up, it hasn’t turned out great.
Ian Rapoport tweeted that “Most NFL GMs have secret twitter accounts,” so this practice is commonplace in professional sports. But this kind of link between a GM and twitter accounts trashing his own team and players is absolutely unprecedented.
And late on Tuesday, Joel Embiid started throwing haymakers on twitter. Which means that either, the Sixers GM was talking bad about his players under a fake name OR the Sixers star player is roasting him GM over false information.
Either way, this is the best story in a long time regarding the NBA. It has the most intrigue and the most potential ramifications for a good, young franchise that was apparently headed for great things.
Regardless of how this story ends, it shows us that we can’t just assume that decision makers for professional teams are smart. They have human-like impulses to, and no one wants to get dragged online. Except most professional GMs are smart enough to just take it, not respond with FIVE different twitter accounts.