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Everyone in Toronto media who covered the Raptors in recent years has a Bryan Colangelo story.

It usually went like this: You wrote something about Colangelo when he was still the president and GM of the team. That something needn’t be especially critical, but you would get a note about it. The note would be long, aggrieved and often arrived in dead of night.

In one instance, I wrote a single sentence about him in a column – that he had refused comment on the topic at hand.

I woke up to an e-mail from Colangelo longer than the column itself, complaining that I’d been unfair and going line-by-line through the piece picking it apart.

It is not unusual to get irritated, encyclopedic notes from fans. It is, in my experience at least, completely unique to get them from the guy in charge.

Colangelo did this on the regular. Though a genial presence in real life, his electronic persona was very different – insecure, defensive, a sort of digital porcupine. Quills up at all times.

Colangelo was let go by the Raptors and moved on to run the Philadelphia 76ers, where he’s now accused of taking that neurotic tendency up several notches.

On Wednesday, the 76ers announced they were undertaking “an independent investigation” into a truly bonkers story published the night before by The Ringer’s Ben Detrick.

By doing a deep data dive, Detrick connected the dots between Colangelo and five anonymous Twitter accounts that took a keen interest in Philadelphia basketball.

Of course, lots of sports executives monitor what is said about them on social media. Many will happily admit having burner accounts. But they don’t say anything on them. They use them to lurk.

Some of the suspect accounts ripped current 76ers players, former executives and a random sampling of NBA luminaries. They delved into proprietary Sixers’ business, including the sort of stuff that scuttles trades. They also routinely piped up in support of Colangelo. One went so far as to defend his high-collared shirts.

The evidence presented is copious, if circumstantial. (When Detrick contacted the team about two of the accounts, Colangelo admitted using one. The other three were made private shortly thereafter.)

However, there is no direct link to the most incendiary stuff. This may be a con job. If so, it is one of astounding length and depth.

On Wednesday, two league sources who’ve worked directly with Colangelo had contrasting opinions on the mystery.

One would not believe it could be true. The other was more circumspect – “He’s addicted to criticism.”

However this turns out, the billion-dollar enterprise Colangelo runs has been forced into crisis mode. This can’t be waved away in a news conference. There either needs to be a complete, transparent exoneration or a public hanging.

Since Colangelo can’t dunk a basketball, it’s probably safest to lean in the direction of the career gallows.

Beyond the made-for-TV aspects of the story, there is a deeper question: Why would anyone with something to lose put their most unfiltered ideas on social media? And, increasingly, why would they be allowed to?

On the one hand, there is a little money to be made sending out sponsored posts about shampoo.

On the other, there is the statistically significant chance you will cripple your career with one foolish comment.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all about a decade old. We are only beginning to meet the athletes who’ve spent their angsty, teenage years creating a public record of all their random thoughts.

Unshockingly, some of those thoughts are stupid. Others haven’t aged well. A few are deeply offensive. The only thing you could say generally about all of them is that none of them needed to be said out loud.

These days, no league draft can pass, no new athletic face come to the fore, without someone truffling through online profiles of nascent stars for tabloid treasure.

There have been enough regular strikes to create a yellow-journalism gold rush, because real reporting is hard and expensive, while social-media hit pieces are easy and cheap.

To this point, pro franchises have taken a remarkably lax approach to their employees’ online habits. As in, they have none aside from “Be careful!” One supposes this an extension of the teams’ approach to live interviews – speaking in front of a camera is not unlike speaking on Facebook.

Except that it is. There is a trove of research that shows few of us are our best selves behind a keyboard – more reactionary, much more cruel and far less inhibited.

Name a friend of yours whom you think comes off as a better, more reasonable human on Twitter than in person? Precisely.

It’s reminiscent of something Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro once said about the interactions he has while walking around the city: “People are always nice … to your face.”

Go read a few online comments about Shapiro. Not so nice. Often not anything you could imagine someone saying to a flesh-and-blood human while standing in front of him.

You do get the sense of a reckoning coming, especially as it applies to entertainment businesses such as sports. The peril of social media has always been real, but now it’s regular.

Every week, someone famous self-immolates. Most come back from it, but a few don’t. The two sides are similar only in that they stitched themselves into the bind for no better reason than they were bored, garrulous and couldn’t think of anything nice to say.

Eventually, teams will begin to think of Instagram they way they think of off-season racquetball – an unnecessary pastime that can destroy a multimillion-dollar human investment.

But first, there must be many cautionary tales.

It’s one thing when the executives who will ultimately make those decisions see young, dumb kids having to unscrew themselves from their missteps.

But when it’s one of their own sneaking into the social-media bear pit and coming out in pieces? That sort of danger may concentrate a few minds.

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