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PHILADELPHIA (AP/CBS) — The Philadelphia 76ers have announced they are looking into allegations that team president Bryan Colangelo is reportedly connected to Twitter accounts that criticized Sixers players Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz, among other NBA figures.
The 76ers said via a statement Wednesday morning, “An online media outlet filed a story linking multiple social media accounts to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. The allegations are serious and we have commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We will report the results of that investigation as soon as it is concluded.”
The accounts allegedly also took aim at former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, Toronto Raptors executive Masai Ujiri and former Sixers players Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, according to a report by The Ringer.
Associate Temple Professor Sunil Wattal is an online privacy expert who says there is a strong circumstantial case that Colangelo is linked to the burner accounts.
“All of us leave some digital trails, which is kind of our digital signature, which gives us a strong probably that the more signatures you have, the higher probability that it’s you,” Wattal explained.
And he says getting to the bottom of the tweets should be a straight forward process for the Sixers.
“In this case, the Sixers would have to subpoena twitter and ultimately the internet service providers to turn over the IP address and the physical address where those tweets were originating from,” Wattal explained.
The website asked the team about five Twitter accounts it suspected Colangelo was operating. He said in a statement he used one of the accounts to monitor the NBA industry and other current events, but he was “not familiar with any of the other accounts” brought to his attention and he didn’t know who was “behind them or what their motives may be in using them.”
Embiid told ESPN on Tuesday night that Colangelo called him and denied the article. The 24-year-old center also tweeted that he didn’t believe the story.
“That would just be insane,” he wrote.
Yahoo Sports reported Colangelo was standing by his statement to The Ringer.
Colangelo was hired as president of basketball operations for Philadelphia in April 2016. He also served as Toronto’s general manager from 2006-2013.
Colangelo, the son of longtime sports executive Jerry Colangelo, stepped in with the Sixers after Hinkie resigned. He lost his GM job in Toronto after the Raptors missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, and Ujiri took over basketball operations.
According to The Ringer, one of the Twitter accounts it connected to Colangelo downplayed Hinkie’s role in the franchise’s turnaround. It also lamented in another post that Ujiri hadn’t done anything to make the Raptors better.
Another account accused Embiid of “playing like a toddler having tantrums,” and one criticized Fultz for his work with his “so called mentor/father figure.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)