Wrong, at least about that last part. Contrary to a story that’s picking up steam online, the Hollywood power couple has not assumed control of the 76ers. But you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that had happened, given the way the story was trumpeted by several media outlets.
It is true that the Smiths purchased a minority stake in the 76ers, Will’s hometown team, in 2011. But they were part of a group that was headed by private equity investor Josh Harris, and he remains the principal owner.
So what’s the story behind all these incorrect stories? An April Fools’ Day prank perpetrated by a 76ers blog.
The zany bloggers at The Sixer Sense decided to create the tall tale, which like most effective hoaxes, involved just enough truth (the Smiths’ existing ownership stake) to seem plausible. However, the website gave away a clue that the story wasn’t true — by stating plainly at the bottom of the story that it was an April Fools’ joke.
Despite the multiple disclaimers on the original story, versions of it actually appeared to be picking up steam several days later. That trend had one of the Sixer Sense bloggers taking to Twitter to try steering people in the right direction.
Who knows, perhaps Smith himself will see the story and assume it’s true. In the meantime, folks excited at what his 76ers ownership could mean will eventually be forced to add that to the countless disappointments suffered at the hands of the team in recent years.