The NBA Finals began on Thursday night, the fourth straight meeting between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, but the NBA offseason got going on Tuesday night with its classic social media drama even more intriguing than ever.
In the past, NBA summers have brought us such wonders as DeAndre Jordan’s free agency turning into something close to a kidnapping and Kevin Durant mysteriously referring to himself in the third person to explain his reasons for leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, though denying he had alternate accounts on Twitter.
Tuesday night brought Ben Detrick’s story at The Ringer, “The Curious Case of Bryan Colangelo and the Secret Twitter Account,” a fascinating tale that led to the Philadelphia 76ers launching an investigation into their general manager’s online activity. From defending the size of Colangelo’s shirt collars to ripping 76ers players, and apparently divulging medical information that almost nobody would have access to, the connection does appear strong.
The fallout for Colangelo remains to be seen, but regardless of how it plays out, there are lessons to be learned for people in and out of sports on how to run a burner account.
Colangelo at least got it partially right. He admitted that the @Phila1234567 account was his, confirming in a statement that he used it “to monitor our industry and other current events,” which is not only reasonable, but precisely why someone in his position would generally have an anonymous Twitter account – to be able to read what’s on the site without having a public profile to invite the world’s criticism.
But let’s say you want more than that. You, for some reason, need more from the Twitter experience, namely arguing with strangers – or being the stranger that public figures get into arguments with.
First of all, don’t. Really, just don’t. Nothing good will come of it. Stick to the reading-only account, and if you’re really in a tizzy about something, write it down on a piece of paper and throw it in the trash. Best case, you’re going to win whatever argument you get into, and the reward for that is… internet points? Worst case, you’ll say something you shouldn’t and eventually get embarrassed when the burner account is connected back to you, whether by reporters or by Twitter having a data breach.
If you’re going to ignore that warning, learn from what appears to be one of Colangelo’s mistakes and don’t do potentially identifying dumb things like following your kid’s college basketball coach and your dad’s business partner. Follow them only from the reading account where you won’t get into any trouble if and when you’re found out.
You are not, like “Eric jr,” a “basketball lifer” from “South Philly,” substituting an equivalent description and location. You’re just a fan of the team, you live in the suburb where you looked but didn’t buy a house when you moved to the area, and you work in customer service for a company you obviously can’t name online. Or something like that. Anything you’re talking about that isn’t public information – again, seriously, just don’t tweet – is something you “heard from a guy” at work, at the bar, at the barbershop, anywhere but your own original thought.
And if you’re going to get into political stuff, throw your phone into the ocean instead. Or at least start a whole other account for that. Go wild with your phony persona there. Have some fun with it. And on that account, don’t follow or interact with anyone even tangentially related to your job.
There is nothing you can do that is as stupid as going from a prestigious, high-paying job, to unemployed and basically unemployable, because you were an idiot on social media. The best way to avoid having that happen is to never, ever, ever, ever post. But if you just can’t help yourself, it’s best to learn from the missteps of everyone who screwed it up before. The NBA is sure to give us another example before the summer is over.