The 76ers season starts in earnest tonight, driving the last nail into the coffin of The Process, the singular greatest/worst/cheapest franchise strategy ever seen in the NBA.
It was three years of either unending entertainment and a collective “fuck you” to the NBA and its team owners, or three years of unending embarrassment for fans that had to watch win totals of 19, 18, and 10 from 2013 to 2016.
It was awesome.
I’m sorry, it was. There has never been a bigger divide among Sixers fans in this franchise’s history. NEVER. You either were all-in, deifying Sam Hinkie as the genius architect of The Process, or you cursed Hinkie as a jowly, overly analytical loser who purposefully made the franchise so bad that they could acquire a greater amount of precious, precious “assets” in the hopes that one of them would eventually pan out.
I fucking loved it. The idea that a pale nerd, who looks like he could hardly dribble a basketball, turned the NBA on its head by declaring that the Sixers would SEEK to be awful (and thus improve their chances to be great) and could evoke such tremendous emotion from basketball fans throughout the country is insane.
It was a shadowy practice only discussed in half-joking, hushed tones from fans, put into practice from possibly the least impressive looking man that has ever stepped foot on a basketball court in any fashion.
You loved Hinkie or you hated him. People either wanted to punch him or fuck him. There was no in-between.
Blogs were created purely to discuss his genius. Podcasts were launched. His swollen face and sly grin are plastered on t-shirts that grown men proudly wear in public. Sixers Twitter exploded, with his legion of followers ready to pounce on the non-believers who dared to question his vision, or who didn’t understand his devotion to second round draft picks, or his willingness to swindle salary-cap-strained franchises with an eye for a payoff YEARS down the road.
It was the young against the old. The Twitter generation vs. the Angelo Cataldis and Howard Eskins of the world, who valued unimportant 7th or 8th seed playoff appearances and 38-win seasons year after year over something that could be great.
You could see their point. The first three years were rough… the basketball was awful and pretty much everyone on those rosters is now gone.
But the highs… those nights on Twitter when Hinkie would drop a bombshell and trade away the reigning rookie of the year for a top-five protected 1st round pick, trade away an All-Star point guard to draft an injured center, draft ANOTHER injured center the year after that, and finally get that #1 overall pick he craved so dearly, only to “step down” (aka get shit canned) in 2016 before he could fulfill his destiny and draft Ben Simmons.
It was awesome. It was great (in moments), and now it’s over.
Bryan Colangelo buried The Process this off-season when he traded away several of Hinkie’s precious assets to (correctly) move up to the #1 pick for the chance to select Markelle Fultz.
It’s over. It’s dead. IT’S GONE. So what now?
Do the Hinkie shirts dry up? The references to Ricky Sanchez? Please tell me Chu Chu Maduabum won’t be forgotten. NOT CHU CHU, DEAR GOD NO.
Do the TTPers honor Hinkie with a Viking funeral, even though he’s still very much alive? Set him ablaze on top of his favorite graphing calculator and put the pyre adrift on the Delaware River? Do they follow him to his next job like a hippie going cross-country to catch Phish play Bonnaroo?
Can we get behind the very un-Process like moves that will surely be coming down the pipe in the next few seasons? What if LeBron leaves Cleveland, do we embrace the idea of signing him?
I have no clue. These are questions better answered by someone much wiser than myself.
All I can do now is sit on my couch, pray Embiid doesn’t shatter his foot tonight, and hope we’ll see that pasty, crazy bastard back in the NBA one day.