Grab your popcorn. We need to talk about this Bryan Colangelo Twitter burner-account bombshell.

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By Bgnewf [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Stick with me here, folks. What I’m about to describe below is one heckuva bizarre social media spectacle.

Eric, remind me again, who is Bryan Colangelo?

Bryan Colangelo is currently the president of basketball operations and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

“Currently,” as in not for long?

We’ll see. But, here’s where it gets wild. I’ll go through the timeline.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ben Detrick broke the story.

He reported here at The Ringer that, based on an anonymous tip followed by months of investigation,  it appeared as though Bryan Colangelo had been secretly operating five Twitter accounts:

  1. @phila1234567 – no account name
  2. @AlVic40117560 –  account name “Eric jr”
  3. @Honesta34197118 – account name “HonestAbe”
  4. @Enoughunkownso1 – account name “Enoughunkownsources”
  5. @s_bonhams – account name “Still Balling”

According to Detrick’s article, the source claimed that these five accounts had been used to:

  • Criticize NBA players, including Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, and Nerlens Noel
  • Publicly debate the decisions of his own coaching staff, as well as critique former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie and Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri
  • Telegraph the 2017 trade in which the Sixers acquired the no. 1 overall pick that would become Markelle Fultz
  • Disclose nonpublic medical information about Okafor and gossip about Embiid and Fultz to members of the national and Philadelphia media

Detrick’s article spells out a timeline and includes information about his source, the accounts, the bulleted items above.

But, here’s where it gets terrifying. Check out what Detrick reports happened after he alerted the 76ers:

On Tuesday, May 22, I emailed the Sixers and shared the names of two of the accounts, phila1234567 and Eric jr (I did not disclose our suspicions about the other three accounts, one of which, Still Balling, had been active earlier that day; I did this to see whether the partial disclosure would trigger any changes to the other accounts). On a follow-up call that day, Philadelphia’s media representative told me that he would ask Colangelo whether he had any information about the two accounts.

That afternoon, within hours of the call, all three of the accounts I hadn’t discussed with the team switched from public to private, effectively taking them offline—including one (HonestAbe) that hadn’t been active since December. The Still Balling account, which had been tweeting daily, has not posted since the morning of the 22nd (I had already been following Still Balling with an anonymous account of my own, which allowed me to see activity after it went private). Since I contacted the Sixers, Still Balling has unfollowed 37 accounts with ties to Colangelo, including several of his son’s college basketball teammates, a former coach from his son’s high school, and an account that shares the same name as the agent Warren LeGarie, who has represented Colangelo in the past.

Whoa!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Colangelo tells USA Today (here) that one of the burner accounts (@phila1234567) is his. However, he denies that he is involved with any of the other four accounts. Meanwhile, Dan McQuade and Lauren Theisen at Deadspin reported (here and here) of circumstantial evidence linking three of the other four burner accounts to Colangelo’s wife.

They also dubbed this spectacle, ‘Woodergate,’ which I find hilarious.

And, if podcasts are your thing, Rights to Ricky Sanchez broke it all down (NSFW)

Woodergate proves serious enough that the 76ers hired an independent investigator to, well, investigate. The 76ers confirmed this in a statement as well.

(NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later confirmed here that the independent investigator is a New York law firm with carte blanche to get to the bottom of this quickly, but without cutting any corners.)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dave Uram at Philly Influencer posted a nice write-up of the Colangelo story. Among other things, his report includes tweets from Sarah Todd, a local 76ers beat writer, highlighting how many players throughout the league don’t trust Colangelo.

Ben Rohrbach at Yahoo Sports also recapped the pertinent facts (here), including reports of other burner accounts on other online platforms potentially linked to Colangelo.

And if you really want to head down a rabbit hole, head over to Reddit for more on this story.

What’s the latest?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports (here) that the investigation may be done today, with some sources expecting Colangelo to lose his job! While ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe report (here), “Many members of Colangelo’s staff in Philadelphia are bracing for his dismissal, sources said.”

Is there some HR-compliance takeaway here?

Sure.

Pull out your employee handbook, turn to the table of contents, and let’s start highlighting all of the provisions that this story potentially invokes:

  • Confidentiality
  • Social Media
  • Computer Use
  • Code of Ethics/Conduct
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Workplace investigations

And we’re talking about one of the top people in the organization.

Holy moly!

A few days ago, Disney/ABC terminated ended “Roseanne” within hours after Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett. Yesterday, I spoke with a reporter about how this is becoming the risk-management trend. Without comparing Roseanne Barr’s actions to Harvey Weinstein’s, the tie that binds is an increasing emphasis on accountability and leadership when anyone in the company does nasty stuff.

The situation with Colangelo is different because the evidence right now is mostly circumstantial.

However.

I don’t think it’s unfair to speculate that if the investigation connects Bryan Colangelo to any of the other four burner accounts, his time with the 76ers will end immediately. There is no coming back from that breach of trust and loyalty. According to the ESPN.com article, “Ownership fears that Colangelo’s credibility inside and outside the organization may be too badly damaged to continue in the job.”

Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers are taking this situation very seriously. And that too reflects accountability and leadership.

So, the question for you is whether your company prepared to do what it must when one of your all-stars is suspected of wrongdoing? Will it take the allegations seriously, perform the requisite due diligence, and act on the information it obtains?

If the answer is no, then your business is bucking the recent trend.

In other words, you’re going to get dunked on.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”