The Philadelphia 76ers are investigating whether team president Bryan Colangelo used Twitter accounts to anonymously trash some of his own players and fellow executives and to defend himself against criticism from fans and the sports media.
The five accounts took aim at Philadelphia players Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri and former Sixers players Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, according to a report by The Ringer website.
Colangelo acknowledged using one of the accounts to monitor the NBA industry and other current events, but said he wasn’t familiar with the other four and didn’t know who was behind them.
“The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter,” the Sixers said Wednesday in a statement. “We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”
Embiid, the 24-year-old All-Star center, tweeted that he didn’t believe the report.
“I don’t believe the story. That would just be insane,” he wrote.
The Ringer said in its report that it has been monitoring the accounts since February, when it received an anonymous tip about the accounts. The site said it does not know the source of the tip, but archived and monitored the tweets themselves and found connections between the accounts.
The Ringer said it initially asked the Sixers about just two of the five accounts to see if anything would change with the other three after its query, and the same day the other three accounts were made private.
Colangelo was hired as president of basketball operations for Philadelphia in April 2016. He served as Toronto’s general manager from 2006-2013.
Colangelo, the son of longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, stepped in with the Sixers after Hinkie resigned. He lost his GM job in Toronto after the Raptors missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, and Ujiri took over basketball operations.
According to The Ringer, one of the Twitter accounts it connected to Colangelo downplayed Hinkie’s role in the franchise’s turnaround. It also lamented in another post that Ujiri hadn’t done anything to make the Raptors better.
Another account accused Embiid of “playing like a toddler having tantrums,” and one criticized Fultz for his work with his “so called mentor/father figure.”