Thursday's trade deadline came and went with a few noteworthy, but relatively minor, moves from the Sixers. Trey Burke and James Ennis left the team, Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III joined the team. No Ben Simmons-for-D'Angelo Russell blockbuster materialized, and troubled Al Horford stayed put.
Sixers fans, like all NBA fans, were thirsty for drama and updates all day long. But unlike other NBA fans, Sixers fans spent a good chunk of the day lobbing trade requests, serious and otherwise, at legendary rock musician Elton John's official Twitter account.
Like, the Elton John behind Tiny Dancer. The Elton John behind Crocodile Rock. But not the person behind last year's Tobias Harris mega-deal.
That, of course, would be Elton Brand, who was hired as the Sixers' general manager in September 2018. A former NBA player who played in the second of his two All-Star Games one month before Twitter was launched, Brand doesn't carry the robust social media presence of a modern NBA player like Joel Embiid.
But Sixers Twitter, a determined group of highly intense fans who survived three years of Very Bad Basketball - some would even say they had fun! - and came out the other side as hardened Internet users, refused to be thwarted by Twitter-less Elton.
Instead, much like Eagles fans did with @ChipKelly, Sixers fans began tweeting at @EltonOfficial, all the while knowing the account wasn't tied to Brand, but was instead the official account of John.
Take this sampling of tweets from today's trade deadline madness:
Trade for Markieff Morris @eltonofficial. Do it!— Yamil Roman (@YamilRomanPSN) February 6, 2020
These tweets pop up now and again, when news like especially spicy Woj Bombs or suddenly-available role players spins its way through the Greater Philadelphia Area's collective timeline.
Here are a few from this fall:
And here are a few from this past offseason, around free agency:
How did it start? It's difficult to pin down the germ of the idea, because it takes a particular whimsy to tag Elton John in a tweet about a random NBA free agent.
A quick dive through Twitter's Advanced Search feature seems to place the first Sixers front office-related @EltonOfficial tweets at February 2019, around last year's trade deadline. An exchange between including noted Philly Twitter Folk @Loctastic and @85mf referenced John's 1975 single "Philadelphia Freedom", a Boban Marjanovic GIF, and a now-defunct Twitter account. It's the perfect storm.
elton takes a break from his goodbye tour to sing philadelphia freedom at the parade. make it happen @eltonofficial— loctastic (@loctastic) February 8, 2019
It isn't a perfect science, but this feels like the start of the @EltonOfficial movement.
The "why?" behind this is perhaps a bit easier to parse. In 2020, almost everyone has a Twitter account. Some, like Kevin Durant, hide their various social media presences. Others, like former Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long, bare it all in the interest of transparency. But the idea that someone would be entirely unreachable online - that a barrier between fans and the people they root for - is reaching extinction, and so Sixers fans found a stand-in: Elton John.
Stuff like this is what ties the universal, inscrutable language of Philly Sports Twitter together. It's weird, and it's dumb, and to outsiders it legitimately looks like nonsense.
Okay, it's still dumb. But hilarious.
But there is the remote chance - and, let me tell you, it is an extremely remote chance - that Brand figured out Sixers fans' social media habits, contacted Elton John's official public relations team, and asked that they forward him these trade ideas. After all, it's important to bring it outside voices to make forward-thinking moves.
If that's the case, tweets like these may hold more water than we think:
— SteelersDraftSZN (@ChopChop570) December 29, 2019
It's probably not the case. But if it is... well, @EltonOfficial, thanks for listening.