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I believed Bryan Colangelo, too — and he still had to go

I believed Bryan Colangelo, too — and he still had to go

The extent to which departed Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo was aware of or participated in the many “burner” accounts defending him on Twitter was always irrelevant.

He had to go, and he had to go now.

For what it’s worth, I believed, as the Sixers apparently did, that Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, was behind the vast majority and worst of the Tweets that ultimately doomed his tenure as president of basketball operations. It was sadly plausible that a 53-year-old sports executive would jump on social media under a bunch of different aliases to defend himself against internet trolls — but use somebody else’s phone to do it?

This is 2018, a time in history when most human beings are practically tethered to their cell phones. It was almost inconceivable Bottini’s phone was unattended long or often enough for Colangelo to get his hands on it with such frequency.

Which is why it was baffling to hear the Sixers believed Colangelo, as if for one second they considered the possibility that information shouldn’t cost him his job.

This situation was never about whether Colangelo was right or wrong, guilty or not guilty.

It was about the trust that was destroyed and would likely never be fully regained between a president of basketball operations and the Sixers’ coaches and players. Colangelo may not have authored those negative Tweets about the people in his employ, and he may not have personally spread sensitive information about them in a public forum. Regardless of where it came from, that stuff was out there, and he was ultimately the source for a lot of it.

Who can separate what Colangelo felt from what his wife said?

It was also about how the Sixers organization would be viewed by potential free agents around the NBA come July 1. This is a critical juncture for a team attempting to win a championship, and if even one player would consider steering clear of Philadelphia over the appearance of organizational disarray or because they weren’t comfortable with the front office, that was one too many.

You can’t have the best player in the world, who also happens to be an impending free agent — one that’s been repeatedly tied to the organization — dunking on your president of basketball operations for the entire world to see.

Colangelo probably should’ve been canned the moment LeBron James commented on the Sixers’ scandal. It certainly shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.

I can appreciate the Sixers doing their due diligence and not firing somebody before the full story is out. But once it was confirmed the Tweets came from his wife’s phone, it didn’t much matter to what degree Colangelo was involved with the accounts or their content.

At that point, he was tied to this scandal forever.

Maybe the Sixers, their players and coaches and the rest of the NBA could overlook a president of basketball operations' overbearing, defensive wife in the right climate, maybe if the team was already a legitimate contender or had won something. Even then, Bottini's disclosure of medical information would’ve complicated Colangelo’s ability to stay on manage the team effectively.

But the Sixers are at a tenuous point in their development. They’re trying to attract LeBron, or Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George or another top-tier free agent. They’re trying to take the next step toward becoming a contender. They haven’t accomplished anything yet.

The Sixers weren’t going to be able to accomplish anything, either, not with the most talented players in the world steering clear of Philly, with stars such as Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz mistrustful of management, and with his coach feeling undermined. Whether he tweeted those things or not, cutting ties with Colangelo was the only way forward.

More on Colangelo's resignation

•​ Josh Harris doesn't rule out possible Sam Hinkie return

• Harris reveals results of investigation

• Colangelo releases bizarre statement on his resignation

How Sixers actually benefit from Colangelo mess

• Did Sixers fall behind in draft prep during investigation

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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