Well, it happened. Yesterday, it was announced that Sam Hinkie would be stepping down as the 76ers General Manager. Almost every Sixers fan had the same reaction last night, one of confusion and sorrow. Sam Hinkie is gone, and it’s hard to be positive in life. (You can bet my emotions will be properly reflected upon my grades right now)
The two questions that many of us Sixers fans have raised in the last 15 or so hours have been:
What will happen now?
And the more depressing one:
Have the last two and a half years of my life been a complete waste of time?
That second one was my very first reaction. Is everything that Sam Hinkie built for the future now worth nothing? Are the Colangelos going to ruin the entire plan?
I have always trusted the process. The goal of Hinkie’s plan was to avoid being stuck in that 7th or 8th seed in the East while continuing to lose in the first round year after year. Sure, tanking would mean being in the cellar of the Eastern Conference for a while, but the end game was what mattered. By the time the rebuild was over, we would be a team that was well equipped for the future.
Now, are the Colangelos going to ruin everything? No. Whoever says that the 76ers are a doomed franchise now that Hinkie is gone is just being naive. Both Bryan and Jerry Colangelo are intelligent and know the game of basketball. They aren’t going to ruin everything. But, there is a worry now in Philadelphia that they are going to jump off the rebuild train a bit too early. If that does happen, there might not be a championship coming to Philadelphia for a long, long time. What is for certain, though, is that the rebuild is over.
After an hour or two of a mixture of screaming and weeping, I started to feel alright. I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, we could actually contend for the playoffs and I’d have a great time watching my team next year. But, then, the letter was revealed. Over 7,000 words of pure beauty. Shortly after finishing the letter, the weeping would continue.
(If you haven’t read the piece yet, click on this link and take a read: http://espn.go.com/pdf/2016/0406/nba_hinkie_redact.pdf)
I think Pablo Torre sums up my reaction to Hinkie’s letter quite perfectly:
I just finished reading Sam Hinkie's 13-page letter and anyone who Trusted the Process is going to want it tattooed all over their body.
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) April 7, 2016
Sam Hinkie’s letter drew me closer to him. While it was addressed to the managing owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, it really seemed more like an explanation to fans of what he did in Philly and why. I felt like it was meant for someone like me.
Essentially, Sam Hinkie’s letter boils down to the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers were wrong in asking Sam Hinkie to step down from his position and that the seed he had planted still needed time to grow and he wasn’t about being part of the team that would help it to blossom earlier than it was supposed to. Here’s one of his more important quotes to go along with what I just said:
In May of 1969, a 38-year-old Warren Buffett sat down at a typewriter to inform his investors that he was closing his fund (then Buffett Partnership). His reason: market conditions were such that he no longer had the requisite confidence that he could make good decisions on behalf of the investors and deliver on his commitments to them. So he would stop investing on their behalf.
For me, that’s today. Given all the changes to our organization, I no longer have the confidence that I can make good decisions on behalf of investors in the Sixers—you. So I should step down. And I have.
In one sense, it pains me that it has come to this and that I would go at the end of a particularly down year in the standings, one that has been painful for But the fact is—and a young Buffett said it much better than I ever could—“I am not attuned to this environment, and I don’t want to spoil a decent record by trying to play a game I don’t understand just so I can go out a hero
The Philadelphia 76ers’s ownership has made it apparent that the environment is going to change. They are going to be turning their gears more towards respectability with the idea of contending every year rather than rebuilding for the shot at being successful for a long period of time. This ‘plan’ that the ownership has may or may not work out in the end. But, if one thing is for sure, it’s that fans should expect mediocrity from this team for quite some time.
The 76ers have suddenly gone from a ship with an intelligent captain who sees the shore, to a ship lost at sea without their beloved captain.