The New York Times Talks Sam Hinkie and Brett Brown’s Battery-Powered Basketball

Over the course of the season, the national media outlook on the Sixers has bounced back and forth between “the Sixers are a disgrace” and “the Sixers are fascinating.” The benchmark piece for the latter so far this year was the one written for ESPN the Magazine by Pablo Torre, but today’s Michael Sokolove piece in the New York Times is a must-read. Other than the fun tidbit on being told to stand with his back to the wall so LeBron James could walk down the hallway unimpeded in Cleveland, Sokolove dug in on Sam Hinkie:

Hinkie’s strategy has some precedent, though no team ever gone about it as systematically. Years ago, Red Auerbach, the canny head of the Boston Celtics, spent a first-round pick on Larry Bird, who, for complicated reasons, was eligible to be drafted even though he would be playing another year of college basketball. Auerbach, willing to wait while others were not, got a once-in-a-generation player.

I spent a good deal of time talking with Hinkie. He is an engaging man with a dry sense of humor who will enthusiastically share the thinking behind his moves — just not on the record. Like an operative in Washington, he wants to be understood but not quoted.

He also talked about Brett Brown’s futuristic, battery-powered basketball:

One day while I was in his office, he had a basketball sitting in the corner that was plugged into an outlet, charging. He explained to me that a computer chip in it could measure the arc of shots, speed of passes and even how hard a player pounds his dribble. He had used the ball with his 10-year-old son’s team, which he coached whenever his schedule allowed it, and was looking forward to trying it at a Sixers practice next season.

And on the feel of the team:

The practice that morning went for more than three hours and was loud and boisterous. Brown had them play a three-on-three tournament — the winners got to watch as the losers went through a short conditioning drill. The losers in a five-on-five scrimmage did push-ups. The players whooped and hollered when their teams made a shot, and argued over foul calls like they were in a playground pickup game. It was a happy gym. If you just listened to the sounds, you would have thought the Sixers were a winning team. And, in a way, they were.

The whole thing, while long, is fascinating.


23 Responses

  1. It’s actually a good read. It’s nice to read an article by someone who takes a step back to look at the big picture and not just rant and rave.

    Thanks for pointing this out laskowski!!!!

    1. when will the sixers be contenders for the championship?

      red auerbach rebuild
      year 1: drafted bird, went to conference finals.
      year 2: drafted mchale and parish, won nba championship.

      1. can’t say for sure they ever will be, but i support the way they are trying to accomplish getting there but i also realize it will take around 3-4 years before they are serious contenders and that’s if everything comes to fruition. They need a lot of luck and make smart moves in free agency when that time comes.

        As for bird and the Celtics, Boston had the sixth overall pick that year and were lucky he was still there, perhaps because teams wanted him to play immediately but passed since there was a chance he would go back to school, which he did. Then two years later Auerbach pulled off the crazy trade to get Parish by only moving two spots back (#1 to#3) then selected Mchale. Hinkie so far has made some small time robberies but that is considered an all-timer. Also, there was 23 teams back then so the talent around the league wasn’t so spread out. Most teams who have success in the NBA are extremely lucky, Hinkie is trying to make his own luck, while using analytics to figure out what spare parts around the league are worth bringing in and which currently on the squad should be shipped out. It’s better than the Billy King philosophy of just being happy to get into the playoffs.

  2. “The whole thing, while long, is fascinating.”

    That’s what she said, Jimbo.

  3. I see we’re starting to get those commas under control. Fine job ass nugget. …

  4. Jim,
    How do you post articles when you’re under Kyle’s desk wearing a Chase Utley jersey while wiping Kyle’s juice off your chin? That takes talent.

  5. Christ, Jim, since when is a “long” article something to be feared or warned against? I know Kyle is an illiterate fuck whose last read book was Matt Christopher’s The Kid Who Only Hit Homers in fifth grade — and now only listens to audiobooks, because who has time to read when you’re busy think of ways to monetize a moderately-successful “sports” blog by shitting it up with ADS IN EVERY FUCKING CORNER OF THE WEB PAGE that drive away your readers. I’m sure Kyle sees “books” as “old media” and will no doubt go off about how some shitty, flash-in-the-pan, flavor-of-the-week “app” like Periscope is more relevant than a fucking book.

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