“It wasn’t me” – Sixers ownership.
I needed a night to gather my thoughts. Even 13 hours removed from Sam Hinkie’s resignation, I’m a mess of feelings. Disappointed is one. Angry is another. Baffled probably reigns supreme over them all. I can’t blame Sam Hinkie for walking away as the Sixers’ ownership group slowly tried to take all of his power and hire the son of a guy who has been shit-talking him in the press and has only been to Philadelphia five times. I get where Hinkie is coming from. It’s ownership that has me scattered.
Their spin cycle has already begun:
Sixers ticket rep just called me. The line they’re using: Ownership did everything they could to keep Sam Hinkie, and he quit on his own.
— Dan McQuade (@dhm) April 7, 2016
The fringest of fringe Sixers – Chu Chu Maduabum – had some thoughts:
I tried to read the 13 page letter, stopped when I realized it was really a 13 page letter!!!
— Chukwudiebere M (@ChuChuM14) April 7, 2016
@jimadair3 he was……….I don't know bro I actually never got to meet him, I had so many questions
— Chukwudiebere M (@ChuChuM14) April 7, 2016
But I’m here to offer my take, whatever that’s worth.
When Joshua Harris and Co. hired Sam Hinkie, they knew they were in it for the long haul. That’s how he got the job. They might not have expected to be a 10-win team in 2016, but the 2016 offseason was set up as the turning point for a long time. They got cold feet. They got nervous. They became cowards.
And they went about all of it in the shittiest way possible. If you don’t like what Hinkie is doing, step out from behind the curtain and fire him. Thank him for his work and say you’re disappointed in the lack of progress. Put your goddamn name on it. You don’t leak that you were gonna ask him to be in charge of analytics. This would have been like the Eagles claiming they wanted to offer Chip Kelly a job fixing Surface Pro tablets when they inevitably went down if he hadn’t stormed out of the office.
Instead, the Sixers brought in a “basketball guy” who wasn’t exactly fighting off job offers. They knew from DAY ONE that the plan was to replace Hinkie with another “basketball guy” who wasn’t getting any phone calls. It’s indefensible that he’s the first guy’s son.
Nepotism is how you get Jim Buss. It’s how you get Sofia Coppola in Godfather III. It’s how you get After Earth. It’s how you get Chaka Fattah Jr. Shit, it’s how you get Jim Fucking Belushi.
They blamed Hinkie for a failure to evaluate talent, yet they brought in the guy who drafted Andrea Bargnani with the top overall pick. Here’s what he did in his last few years in Toronto:
Colangelo was convinced the core he’d assembled — a 34-win team five years removed from the playoffs that will be over the NBA luxury tax threshold and without a pick in Thursday night’s draft — was only a few additions away from being a playoff team and ultimately a contender in the Eastern Conference.
“In fact, that was his only team above .500. His Toronto teams toed the treadmill of mediocrity for most of his tenure, the never-ending transitive state the Sixers publicly have proclaimed they’re attempting to avoid. He had excuses and brashness and trading real players for Rudy Gay’s contract. He signed mediocre players to large contracts, the late 2000s and early 2010s version of Billy King.”
That’s what the Sixers for years have been saying they’re trying to avoid. And again, if you want to go that route, fine. You’ll piss people off. You’ll lose the fans who bought in and supported you and bought your tickets and merch when no one else would, but fine. Just. Say. It. Don’t take everything away from Hinkie and then act shocked when he leaves.
I don’t expect the ownership of a nearly-billion-dollar-business to cater solely to a very vocal minority of “Process Trusters.” I do expect a little bit of ownership of their actions, however. The hot takes from the media about millennials being idiots or cultists for buying into this so easily will continue, but the cowardice and lack of accountability emanating from the front office – traits that people typically pin on millennials – will be glossed over by most of the media establishment.
This isn’t exactly a 13-page manifesto with quotes from world leaders and tidbits about flightless birds, but I’ll give you this: Masterclasses emo-revival band The Hotelier had a song on their excellent sophomore release Home, Like No Place is There called “The Scope of all this Rebuilding.” Today, it’s fitting:
You cut our ropes
Left the umbilical
And now I carry around
This weight of broken hope
I lied. I’m sorry. This isn’t easy. I don’t know
And you’d ask me to “open your walls to this.”
But I’m scared, fingers broken
And ill-prepared to let this drag out
I can’t make this better
It fell out of my hands because
I just wasn’t built to hold on
I made a promise said my eyes would stay shut
Through something called the scope of all of this rebuilding
I broke when I entered. Displaced from the center
I can’t find my way around this
For all his shortcomings – and he has them, you know – Hinkie was a brilliant mind. And the Sixers pushed him out the backdoor so they could bring in their pen pal’s son. Any excitement that surrounded this team has vanished for now. There’s still Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and a number of great draft picks. If the Colangelos somehow fall ass backwards into succeeding with this, they’ll get the credit. But we will know who really deserves it. We’ll all know.
Post Script: Fittingly, I wrote some of this post while taking a shit.