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Bryan Colangelo breaks his silence on “burnergate”

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2016 Philadelphia 76ers NBA Draft Picks Press Conference Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Bryan Colangelo has apparently broken his media silence on the issue that led to his resignation as President of the Sixers back in 2018. It was just over two years ago when The Ringer’s Ben Detrick wrote “The Curious Case of Bryan Colangelo and the Secret Twitter Account.” Following that story, the team authorized an independent investigation by a law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, to figure out what happened before ownership made a final decision. After that wrapped up, they concluded it was in fact Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, who was on Twitter revealing team secrets and making fun of current and former players. Despite this, Colangelo and the team felt it best if he just resign, which he did.

But now we have some reaction quotes!

Here was a bit from what the former NBA two-time Executive of the Year (but never in Philly) had to say to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sam Phillips:

“Family, personal, professional, or otherwise. I have to say I was dealt a pretty big blow, personally and professionally. And it’s been a difficult time dealing with the fallout. I was completely blindsided by the accusation and the storyline of the controversy.”

“Once that investigation was completed and I was absolved, I felt the appropriate thing to do - in conjunction with ownership there in Philly - was to mutually walk away.”

Yeah... umm... little to unpack there. I’m not exactly sure what I would have expected him to say on the whole matter. But I still find myself feeling surprised about how defensive these quotes come across even a full two years after the incident. That Colangelo felt blindsided by “the accusation” more so than his purported discovery of said accounts feels pretty fishy.

Like dude, off the record for a second, it doesn’t matter that it was your loved ones tweeting the pertinent info, it’s still ultimately on your shoulders if it happens. You do get that, right? If it really wasn’t you tweeting then the “blindsided” bit should be discovering the existence of these accounts, not that people thought it was you once they were found.

If a doctor brings home some confidential patient information and that doctor’s spouse starts spouting off on twitter about it it’s the doctor who is in violation of HIPPA agreements.

If an investment banker brings home some documents related to a pending acquisition and that person’s spouse finds and discloses those details publicly, or worse uses the information to buy or sell stock, it would range anywhere from fireable offense to lawsuits to insider trading. Both employee and spouse could go to jail. Nobody is absolved of anything.

Here was some of what Colangelo had to say on the subject in the statement he released back in 2018:

“Although I am not directly responsible for the actions, I regret this incident occurred and understand that it has become a distraction for the team. Therefore, the organization and I have mutually agreed to part ways.”

He strikes similar notes today, doesn’t he?

You can read the full conclusion from the law firm here. The firm admits that they did not find evidence that Colangelo had awareness of the burner accounts, but acknowledge that their investigation was limited because Ms. Bottini deleted contents from her cell phone before they got to them.

They said:

“Our investigation revealed substantial evidence that Mr. Colangelo was the source of sensitive, non-public, club- related information contained in certain posts to the Twitter accounts. We believe that Mr. Colangelo was careless and in some instances reckless in failing to properly safeguard sensitive, non-public, club-related information in communications with individuals outside the 76ers organization.”

So the firm certainly didn’t absolve him. What about the team? What did the team say?

“It has become clear Bryan’s relationship with our team and his ability to lead the 76ers moving forward has been compromised. Recognizing the detrimental impact this matter had on the organization, Colangelo offered his resignation. We find the situation to be disappointing for our entire organization.”

I’d honestly like to transition to just feeling bad for the way things played out for him here. Even though he wasn’t a good GM for the Sixers (the 2017 draft was far worse of a setback than any tweet ever was) I don’t wish any personal anguish on anyone. Maybe playing innocent somehow helps his career or his family dynamics, who knows. If so, more power to him. But it makes it more difficult to root for the guy. It would have been commendable had he just took full responsibility like great leaders do, say some stuff about what you have learned, how you have changed. But what do I know, I’m just a blog boy. Hopefully he finds some peace in Wollongong. If so, have a couple of schooners of Tooheys New for me at Toss at North Gong. That was my spot.