A Philadelphia 76ers executive may not have been totally trusting the process after all.
Bryan Colangelo, the team’s president of basketball operations, was accused in a report by the Ringer on Tuesday of using fake social media accounts to criticize players on his own team, including Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz and former players Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel.
The Ringer, citing an unnamed source, reported that five Twitter accounts were marked as suspicious, including one that followed 76ers employees but never tweeted and four that tweeted or replied to other users.
Tweets from those accounts took shots at Embiid’s ego, blamed Fultz’s poor shooting on a former mentor, theorized that Okafor’s failed physical was the reason why a potential trade was nixed and called Noel a “selfish punk,” according to the Ringer.
The accounts also took shots at Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Uijiri, who was an assistant under Colangelo and eventually replaced him. The accounts also ripped former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, whose tedious rebuild was dubbed “the process.”
The Ringer report pointed out that after 76ers officials were contacted about the suspicious activity, some of the accounts went private -- including one that hadn’t been active since December.
Colangelo, 52, confirmed in a statement to the Ringer that one of the accounts was his.
“Like many of my colleagues in sports, I have used social media as a means to keep up with the news,” the statement 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.”
Embiid also told ESPN that he talked with Colangelo and the executive denied the tweets were from him.
“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.”
Colangelo is a two-time Executive of the Year Award winner and has served as a top executive in NBA front offices with three different teams – the Phoenix Suns, Raptors and 76ers.
His father, Jerry Colangelo, 78, the longtime Phoenix Suns owner, now serves as a 76ers adviser.