Bryan Colangelo has resigned from his job as GM of the 76ers following a Twitter scandal like no other. He and/or his wife, Barbara Bottini, repeatedly tweeted negative, inaccurate —and perhaps actionable— comments about various players on the team. After a report by The Ringer revealing the questionable tweets, the 76ers ownership hired an outside law firm, Paul, Weiss of New York, to investigate.
Here’s what Paul, Weiss concluded...
No player has been hurt more than Jahlil Okafor in the Colangelos’ Twitter scandal. In addition to being criticized for his play, the tweets claim, erroneously according to all accounts, that Okafor failed a physical that killed a trade between the 76ers and Pelicans just before the 2017 trade deadline.
Here’s a couple of Twitter exchanges. Eric jr. is one of the Twitter burner accounts that Ms. Bottini allegedly used.
unless something happened with Okafor's physicals and the trade fell through.— Eric jr (@AlVic40117560) February 13, 2017
you're telling me he for a fact failed a physical and that's why he wasn't traded?— MarcTomasini-4th&Go (@PhillySportsSrc) February 16, 2017
According to various sources, that was not the case. The deal fell through because Colangelo and Pelicans GM Dell Demps ultimately couldn’t agree on protections for a pick that New Orleans would have sent Philly along with E’Twaun Moore.
The tweets, in addition to being inaccurate or worse, a lie, could constitute a violation of privacy laws, specifically HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), a federal law that provides privacy and security provisions for medical information, which could include the results of physicals.
Will Okafor take action against Colangelo, Barbara Bottini or the 76ers? In a short interview last week with Brian Lewis, his father declined comment, but seemingly left the door open.
“Jahlil has no comment. He’s in a good frame of mine, good spirit just focusing on him,” Okafor’s father, Chukwudi, told the Post. “Myself, him and his agent are going to watch it, see how it plays out. It’s crazy. But other than that, I don’t have anything for you.”
Okafor, of course, is a free agent whose future is cloudy. Neither he nor the Nets foreclosed the possibility of him returning next season, although he’s been working out alone in Miami while his teammates have been spending their days in Brooklyn. He was also one of two roster players who didn’t make the trek to L.A. last month for team bonding experience.
Would his free agent options be even more limited if he decided to file suit alleging HIPAA violations? What about an arbitration through the players’ union for a violation of the uniform player contract which has its own privacy provisions? It appears he has a case.