CAMDEN, N.J. - Mike Muscala faced questions Saturday about the sins of his father.
To his credit, he answered them and tried his best to respond to the tweets from his dad Bob that general manager Elton Brand had labeled "inappropriate and offensive." In one tweet, Bob Muscala called the behavior of the Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler "egomaniacal, African American mental illness" (see story).
"I just want to say I love my dad," Mike Muscala said. "He's been very supportive of me throughout my life and my career. I don't agree with what he said on social media. I'm against it. I apologize for the distraction that it's caused. This is not a reflection of who I am."
These aren't the kind of questions Mike Muscala wanted to be answering a couple days before his new team's first game. Through no fault of his own, his dad's social media activity is likely the first thing fans will associate with Muscala, at least in the early stages of his Sixers career.
Brand and the Sixers could have let Bob Muscala's comments fester online, hoping they stayed in a dark corner of the internet and never saw the light of major media coverage. That wouldn't have been a prudent strategy in this day and age, as the Sixers know.
The team, of course, had a distinctly unpleasant experience this summer involving Twitter burner accounts and intense public backlash. Bryan Colangelo's ghost is still hanging around in the building.
Their proactive approach makes sense from an optics perspective - just imagine how much worse this could have been if someone dug up Bob Muscala's tweets at halftime of Mike's Sixers debut. We saw something similar during the MLB All-Star Game this year, when racist and homophobic tweets from the Milwaukee Brewers' Josh Hader were discovered.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rivals in the NBA from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The big difference is Hader sent those tweets himself, while Muscala simply had the misfortune of being his dad's son. Yet, even if it's unfair, some people are going to link what an athlete's relative says with the player, with the team, with the organization. That's why Brand and Muscala emphasized in their statements that Bob Muscala's tweets have nothing to do with the beliefs of his son.
Head coach Brett Brown echoed that sentiment.
"That comment is an unfortunate, ignorant comment," Brown said. "It reflects nothing about what we are about. And it doesn't reflect what Mike Muscala is about."
Unfortunately, there's still unwanted drama surrounding the Sixers, and there's still a sensational, bizarre story involving social media the team has to deal with.
The Sixers, however, were smart enough to realize the risk inherent in seeing Bob Muscala's comments and wishing them away.
The team would never have wanted the media to be covering a story about a player's father's offensive tweets. But the story of a team getting out in front of an issue, and of a player apologizing for remarks he didn't even make, makes the Sixers look a lot better than the story of an organization late to respond to another social media scandal.