August 01, 2018
Set aside the actual basketball ramifications of what Bryan and Jerry Colangelo did during their time in Philadelphia for a minute, even if that seems silly to do for a pair of basketball executives. We've already discussed what Bryan's legacy will be here when all is said and done, and that list of transactions certainly hasn't changed or grown as he's faded into the background this summer.
What has continued throughout the dog days of the NBA offseason, however, is the Colangelo family's insistence on dodging any responsibility for their actions or the repercussions that stemmed from them. This all started with the public statement Bryan gave in the aftermath of his departure from the Sixers, which placed almost 100 percent of the blame at the feet of his wife.
In case you need a refresher, the opening stanza of that statement:
While I am grateful that the independent investigation conducted by the 76ers has confirmed that I had no knowledge of or involvement in the Twitter activity conducted by my wife, I vigorously dispute the allegation that my conduct was in any way reckless. At no point did I ever purposefully or directly share any sensitive, non-public, club-related information with her.
The content contained on the Twitter feeds in question suggests otherwise — allusions to medical conditions, interpersonal relationships, and dynamics within the 76ers are not exactly above board — but this was the chosen first step for the former Sixers GM after the dust settled on the scandal. That in itself is revealing.
But today we're here to talk about the elder Colangelo, Jerry, who made an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday evening, discussing a number of topics of interest to Sixers fans.
First on the docket: Colangelo discussing his contributions to Philadelphia being where they are as a franchise today, and what exactly he offered to the Sixers upon his hiring in late 2015. He offered up the following:
After being recruited to go there and help the franchise, help ownership kind of restructure, because they were in a terrible losing mode, and it was embarrassing to a lot of people. The league, ownership, the people of Philadelphia, the media, etc.
So my role was to go in and make recommendations which was exactly what I did. I felt they needed some basketball people, they had a list of candidates, I was willing to interview any or all of them except one, and that person was Bryan, who as you both know was the one who ended up getting the job.
This misinformation about ‘I hired my son to be GM’ is 100 percent inaccurate. Ownership made that decision, and when they did, my role was diminished because it had to be, to rule out any of the so-called expert opinions about nepotism or anything like that. It was anything but the truth.
There are a few things to take a longer look at here. First, it's a little bit noteworthy that Colangelo named "the league" first in his series of things the Sixers "embarrassed" with their rebuilding plan under Sam Hinkie. Considering Colangelo was allegedly hired because of what the Sixers were not offering their fans — and that Colangelo has allegedly offered the last several years of his life to aiding the franchise individually — you would imagine the "people of Philadelphia" might rank a little higher in the hierarchy. (That may be reading too far into things, so your mileage may vary.)
The more interesting thing, in my mind, is Colangelo's forceful denial of his involvement in the hiring of his son. It's not anything new, of course, but he continues to harp on this long after it has ceased being relevant.
The implication, whether he realizes it or not, is that Jerry Colangelo contributed exactly nothing to the Sixers in three years. If he had no contribution to the most significant hire the franchise made during the time period, and his role within the organization diminished the second it was decided his son was the best man for the job, the sum of his contributions was telling Sixers owners, "you need more basketball people."
Considering the number of talk radio hosts and local columnists that suggested the exact same thing when Sam Hinkie was hired, let alone in the years that followed, it's safe to say this bit of infinite wisdom is not going to earn the elder Colangelo a bronze statue outside the Wells Fargo Center. How's that for an expert opinion?
Back to the interview on Sirius for a moment — Justin Termine asked a follow-up to Colangelo's initial statement, wondering why it never became totally clear that nepotism wasn't involved in Bryan getting the Sixers job. Colangelo responded accordingly (bold emphasis mine):
Lot of things get swept under the rug and there’s no explanation for that. My attitude has always been the less said the better, people can determine whatever they wish to determine, I know in my heart of hearts what took place, how it took place, who’s responsible for what, and I can leave with my head held high.
It’s been a tough year for Bryan under the circumstances, to lose a job over something, or nothing that he did. That is unfortunate.
So let's be clear about what's happening here. A man in the process of conducting a syndicated radio interview, a man who one question prior offered (with no prompting) a passionate denial on a subject no one around the NBA or Philadelphia frankly cares about very much anymore, believes in his heart of hearts, "the less said the better, people can determine whatever they wish to determine."
On its own, this would be a hilarious suggestion. When you combine it with the fact that his son lost his job a month and a half ago because his wife simply would not allow for the public to, "determine whatever they wish to determine," the whole thing turns into a glorified comedy routine.
And in the end, of course it circles back to trying to alleviate any/all responsibility from Bryan for the burner account scandal that took place. Truthfully, I feel some sympathy for what happened to Bryan Colangelo, who was always going to be judged harshly by large portions of diehard fans even if the Sixers succeeded under him, and who met his end in a way I can sympathize with on a human level. But the suggestion he didn't do anything to contribute to what led to his job loss is absolute lunacy.
In Jerry's case, you can't really have your cake and eat it too. If you want people believe you're a man (and by extension a family) that is happy to let people talk and rest confidently with knowledge of the facts, then do that. If, however, you insist on making vanity plays during radio interviews because you can't make it through a segment without trying to correct the public narrative, don't be surprised if people don't take your version of events seriously, particularly when they conflict with behind-the-scenes stories reported by various people over years of time.
But hey, I'm just a writer broadcasting this message to anyone who chooses to read this on the internet. People can determine whatever they wish to determine.
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