Andrew Unterberger is a famous writer who invented the nickname 'Sauce Castillo' and is now writing for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, as part of the 'If Not, Pick Will Convey As Two Second-Rounders' section of the site. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AUGetoffmygold and can also read him at Billboard.
I want to know everything there is to know about Barbara Bottini. But I also kinda wanna know nothing at all.
Right now, what we all know about Barbara isn't too much: she's Italian, she's part of the Parents Organization at Upper Canada College, she's (presumably) fairly short, her phone number ends in 91, and she certainly seems to love her idiot snake husband. And she is, for all intents and purposes, now one of the ultimate Heroes of the Process, for unintentionally setting the series of events in motion that finally rid the Philadelphia 76ers of Colangelo influence, essentially giving Bryan an exit straight out of hell's Ironic Punishment Division.
Now, the Heroes of the Process have come in some pretty unlikely forms over the years -- electricians, Oscar-nominated screenwriters, T.J. McConnell -- but right now, Barbara probably stands as the most improbable of the bunch. She certainly holds few opinions of a traditional Process Truster: She's anti-Hinkie, anti-Embiid, anti-Nerlens, anti-collar size stigmatization. According to some, she's even disparaged the Ricky, insisting proceeds for events have not gone to charities as claimed (editor note: they have). And yet, with a big assist from Ben Detrick, Chris Ryan and The Ringer, she's done what not even the collective force of Process Twitter could do previously: She's essentially undone the injustices of April 2016, in every way except getting Hinkie his old job back. She couldn't be more of a hero if she exposed the 2017 Rookie of the Year voting as having been rigged.
Of course, she's not likely to derive much joy from that status, considering it came at the expense of her husband's career, her family's reputation, and who even knows what else. It's Bryan's tragedy, but she'll suffer about as much of the consequences. And all because she couldn't stand idly by as her man took a two-year-long public beating from, well, just about all of us.
The truly sad thing about #Collargate -- and the part that I hope Bryan Colangelo understands when he looks back on this a couple years from now -- is that it was, at its core, an incredibly human, incredibly relatable drama. It was absurd, and it was embarrassing, but it was far from incomprehensible. It undoubtedly blows to have your husband dragged by a diligent media and a rabid fanbase for years, while being unable to properly defend him -- especially when you (apparently) have information that they don't. There's probably not a spouse of an NBA executive out there that hasn't wanted to do what Barbara did, to at least a certain extent.
And allow me to be sympathetic to Bryan for one paragraph and then never again, because his own part in it was more understandable than he even seems to realize. Anyone who genuinely believes BC unequivocally Deserves to Be Fired for venting his job's frustrations to his wife has either never been in a long-term relationship or never had a job. Yes, perhaps there's a line not to be crossed when it comes to sharing privileged information, but this is the NBA, not the Pentagon; it's not like sharing secrets with his civilian wife meant Bryan was threatening national security. If Barbara hadn't tweeted out the confidential info, and Josh Harris simply found out privately that BC had shared news of Jah's supposed failed physical with his wife over Chinese leftovers, do you really think Bryan would've been disciplined simply for that? No, because Josh Harris had undoubtedly just been bitching about it to Mrs. Harris the night before. Everyone does it, and no one would expect otherwise from Bryan Colangelo.
That's the thing -- well, one of the many things -- that makes the statement that BC released yesterday so perplexing. Of the many surprising developments in this story since it dropped last week (including the initial story itself), the only one that really made my jaw drop was that damn Colangelo letter. Because public sympathy was there for his taking. Nobody wanted to feel bad for Bryan Colangelo when they thought he was tweeting on his own behalf, but when it became Barbara jumping to his defense, the story went from LOL to awwww pretty quickly. The ridiculousness was still there, but there was now an underlying humanity to it that was pretty hard to deny: It was now about devotion, about trust, about marriage. It basically took a Naked Gun movie and turned it into an episode of The Americans.
For Bryan, it should have been simple: All he had to do was release a statement that apologized for his wife's actions, acknowledged his own wrongdoings in the situation, and essentially threw himself upon the mercy of the Twitter court. Look, I know my job is one where discretion is important, and I messed up by letting my professional frustrations get the better of me in my private discussions with my wife. And we both know that she messed up by making those private discussions public. But I also know she was only doing what she was doing out of love for me and a desire to defend my name, and though the way she did it was inexcusable, I hope everyone understands that her intentions were good, and she never meant to embarrass me or the Sixers organization. We'll have to work to re-establish the trust in our relationship, but I still love my wife and I stand by her.
Would it have saved his job? Of course not! While the Sixers were obligated to paint his dismissal as one of professional culpability, the primary motivation in removing Colangelo was not punitive, it was self-preservational: By turning into a national punchline -- LeBron James literally ba-dum chinged him! -- he had become a liability, at a moment in their timeline when the Sixers could not afford anything of the sort. Colangelo was toast the minute The Ringer hit publish on that story; the last nine days have been about editing the wording of a chapter whose ending had already been written. His time in the NBA is almost certainly over, at least for the foreseeable future, and nothing he could've done would change that.
But if he had released a statement tantamount to the above, he could've emerged from the situation with considerable public compassion, and perhaps a little dignity. His only real sin would've been something 99% of married people do on a semi-daily basis. (Of course, this is assuming he didn't operate any of the burner accounts himself, which I guess we still don't know for a fact, but which we probably would've cared less to find out if he had showed this kind of humility with his statement.) And it might've even diminished the toxicity surrounding him to the point that in a couple years' time, another organization could've considered taking him on in some secondary or advisory capacity without igniting a national firestorm in the process.
Instead, the dolt went and did virtually the exact opposite. He released a statement isolating and further condemning his wife for her actions, claimed zero connection to the information she publicly shared (or the sharing of it), and defended his own unequivocal innocence in the situation to the death. He even called her out for not getting her facts straight! This is his wife, the mother of his children, and he basically gave her the I Don't Know Her!
It's absolutely unthinkable. How must their kids be feeling right now, having seen their father sell their mother down the river as his final act in office? How can even Jerry, snake in the grass pater familias, look himself in the mirror with the knowledge that these are apparently the vales of the son he raised and mentored? And perhaps most pressingly: How does an adult professional human person get ten days to essentially prepare their own eulogy, and come up with something petty, egotistic and borderline-sociopathic enough to make Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech look like fucking Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees by comparison?
I've disagreed with a lot of things Bryan Colangelo did during his time with the Sixers. I've found moves he's made dumbfounding and insulting. But never before had I found him a figure beyond empathy: He was a man with a difficult job in a difficult situation, and while he overemphasized the importance of PR for a handful of his bigger decisions, for the most part, he seemed to be trying to do a good job. But to get an opportunity to show contrition, compassion and humility for once in his proud, privileged existence, and to use it to be defensive, judgmental, cowardly, practically solipsistic and really downright Trumpian -- at the expense of his own wife -- tells us pretty much everything we need to know about him. He is officially The Worst, he is no longer deserving of any degree of our empathy or our sympathy, and he deserves every Game of Zones-style roasting he receives from now until the end of time.
And Barbara? Well, she's welcome on our side of the fence whenever she wants to hop on over. No matter what the circumstances led to us all being where we are, it should be abundantly clear to her by now that she's sitting on the Wrong Side of History alongside Bryan and Jerry. It'd be an adjustment for all parties, no doubt, but if by next postseason she wanted to come out in an Embiid jersey to ring the bell before Game 1 of the first round, we'd be happy to meet her with a standing ovation and the loudest goddamn "TRUST-THE-PRO-CESS!" chant ever to echo around the walls of the Wells Fargo Center.
Something tells me, though, that she won't be boarding the Process Express anytime soon. I have no idea how she gets past this chapter in her personal life, but after two years of Jahlil Okafor pillow talk she undoubtedly wants nothing more than a long break from anything Philadelphia 76ers-related. And I hope she gets it: I don't know Barbara or agree with many of her expressed views, and obviously her attempts at Internet espionage were foolish, irresponsible and riddled with typos, but she certainly seems more and more like a victim here. Unlike her disgraced and disgraceful husband, I do feel bad for the public humiliation she's had to suffer as a result of this mess.
So I'm not gonna go out of my way to find out more info about Barbara, and I'm certainly not gonna try to spread it anywhere else. After this column, I won't write about her again. She's welcome to join the movement anytime she so desires, but if she wants to shrink back to relative anonymity after her brief and undoubtedly painful time in the spotlight, that's certainly understandable, and she should be able to do so without remaining a target for jokes or other unwanted attention from the Process Faithful. Frankly, I hope we forget her name in due time.
In fact, I propose we stop calling her Barbara altogether, and simply refer to her as 91 from here on out. Consider it her Marvel Process name, with Barbara Bottini her mild-mannered everywoman persona, whose true identity we should try to protect from the overall public. As long as she's Barbara, she should be free to walk the streets in peace without being recognized for her role in bringing down the Colangelo syndicate. And whenever she wants to cape up for us as 91 again, she'll receive the superhero's greeting she deserves.