It is not a secret that players, front-office executives, owners, and everyone else in the sports world have burner accounts on various social media platforms. This isn’t even a new phenomena with social media.
Before there was Twitter and Instagram, team employees were known to prowl the message boards and forums of websites. The difference between what we’ve seen in the past and the five Twitter accounts that are reportedly tied to 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo is the negativity and the release of sensitive information.
Colangelo has admitted to running one of the five accounts detailed in The Ringer’s investigative report in order to monitor league news without engaging. The other four accounts, which did everything from defend Colangelo’s shirt collars to bad-mouth Joel Embiid and talk about Markelle Fultz’s mental health, are still being investigated by the Sixers.
Although there have been people in the NBA caught using burner accounts in the past, it hasn’t been at this level. So in the wake of the unresolved Colangelo Twitter saga, let’s take a look at some examples of people getting caught using burner accounts and how they differ from the one that is plaguing the Sixers.
In September 2017, Durant’s own burner persona was found out because he was caught tweeting about himself in the third person after forgetting to switch from his personal account to the disguised account. Durant was defending his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors, citing the lack of depth on the roster and not wanting to play for coach Billy Donovan.
A few days after the third-person gaffe, Durant apologized for taking things too far. The difference here is that Durant is a player and was defending his decision without too many disparaging remarks about his former team. There were subtle slights to his former coach and players not named Russell Westbrook on the Thunder, but outside of that it was an embarrassing moment more than anything. No secrets were released, no insults were thrown, and all has more or less been forgiven.
In 2009, anonymous comments on a the fan-based website WarriorsWorld.net that was extremely complimentary of the Warriors front office and their dealings with season-ticket holders were posted by Raymond Ridder, the team’s director of public relations. The comments were discovered via IP address to have come from inside the Warriors facility.
The same day the comment was made, when Ridder was contacted and asked whom the comments had come from, he admitted everything. There wasn’t even a second of hesitation or denial. There are two major distinctions between this and what is happening with Colangelo and the Sixers. First, Ridder immediately took full responsibility for the comment and owned up to past comments that he’d made in an attempt to nudge conversations in a certain direction. Second, everything Ridder said about the Warriors and anyone associated was in a positive light. Case closed.
Jane Skinner Goodell
In October 2017, the wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was discovered tweeting from a burner account defending her husband, and criticizing media members. The Wall Street Journal uncovered the truth behind the Twitter account when it noticed that it followed accounts associated with the school that their daughters attend. She was found out, she apologized.
Several media outlets have reported that Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, could possibly be linked to the burner accounts, which follow other accounts linked to their son and his basketball team at the University of Chicago. The Goodell story seems like the closest comparison, but there are differences.
Skinner Goodell never released team- or league-sensitive information, and did not take to insulting players, coaches, or general managers. It was easier for her to explain that she got angry and defended her husband in the name of honor and love.
With the Sixers’ independent investigation into the matter still ongoing, we still don’t know the truth. Eventually it will come out, and it will surely top the list as the most bizarre burner account story in sports to date.