Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
A public relations crisis bombshell landed right in the middle of the NBA playoffs last week when several media outlets “revealed” that Philadelphia 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo was the primary suspect behind several “anonymous” Twitter accounts that had been used to criticize Philadelphia superstar players and even members of the 76ers staff.
A subsequent investigation cleared Colangelo of any direct responsibility for the actions being alleged, but then the bombshell exploded. According to the findings of the independent investigation, Colangelo did not, in fact, open and post on those accounts… his wife, Barbara Bottini, did… and she did in fact use information provided by her husband. According to the investigative firm that looked into the matter:
“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.”
According to the reports, it was established that Bottini opened and operated all four suspect accounts, though the information had to come from an inside source. That source was determined to be Colangelo, who was sharing what he thought was private information with his wife, apparently without knowledge that she was posting it on Twitter.
So, in less than a week, Colangelo went from categorically denying any involvement in the Twitter scandal to having to both defend and accuse his wife, while answering for his role in the debacle:
“At no point did I ever purposefully or directly share any sensitive, non-public, club-related information with her… Her actions were a seriously misguided effort to publicly defend and support me, and while I recognize how inappropriate these actions were, she acted independently and without my knowledge or consent. Further, the content she shared was filled with inaccuracies and conjecture which in no way represent my own views or opinions.”
Colangelo’s attempt to separate himself from the consequences didn’t work. He was still compelled to resign his position as the top executive in the Sixer organization. The team agreed with the decision, calling Colangelo’s relationship with the team “compromised” beyond the ability to correct.
The timing of this distraction is bad for Philadelphia, which is desperately trying to build a better version of the team in the off-season. Now, top free agents may wonder just where the team is at from an organizational standpoint, prompting 76er managing partner Josh Harris to comment on the team’s progress and determination going forward:
“We find the situation to be disappointing… We are determined to continue the tremendous progress we have made over the last two seasons in our quest to win an NBA championship.”
Harris is on message and on point… but when your top executive is pushed out over a scandal like this one, fans, players, and potential acquisitions in a league ripe for blockbuster off-season trades are going to want more.