Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is known as many things: general manager, President of Basketball Operations, educator (he has lectured about basketball statistics at a few different universities), dark lord, and of course, a mad genius. But did you know that Mr. Hinkie teaches life lessons as well?
Not only are Hinkie and Sixers head coach Brett Brown teaching their players and staff important lessons on and off the court, they’re also giving the entire fan base some valuable knowledge.
Today we’ll observe one of those lessons.
If there’s one thing Sixers’ fans have learned, its patience. In fairness, this lesson started a year before Hinkie arrived, when we were waiting for Andrew Bynum to actually do something useful. But we all know how that ended.
After joining the Sixers in 2013, Sam announced his rebuilding plan to us, and made it clear that it was going to be a long, grueling process. He predicted that it would take five years for the turn around to happen. Five years? That’s a lifetime in the sports world!
The organization took a chance by bringing in Hinkie and Brown to rebuild the franchise. Seriously, how long could they expect the city of Philadelphia to wait for the Sixers to be relevant again? How much money could they risk losing with such potential drops in attendance?
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We Philly fans are one of the most passionate, excitable fan bases in the sports world, and that makes it tough for any sports figure to make it in this city. Don’t believe me? Go ask Evan Turner or Spencer Hawes how things worked out here.
Many thought that there would be no way we’d wait longer for a championship run.
Yet here we are, waiting…
Back during the 2013 NBA Draft, Sam tested our patience with his first major decision. He shipped our lone All-Star, Jrue Holiday off to the New Orleans Pelicans for a future first-round draft pick and their sixth overall pick, Nerlens Noel, an injured center from Kentucky. Many were left in shock.
Sam Hinkie traded the one player many fans regarded as the only untouchable piece of the franchise. Needless to say, many people were upset. But all the while, Hinkie continued to smile and asked for us to be more patient.
And so we were.
We watched Nerlens sit on the bench, and saw clips of him shooting at practice with Brett Brown. Oh, how badly we wanted to see him play, especially after his infamous 4-4-14 tweet spread like wildfire all of the internet. Sixers fans were salvating like rabid dogs, willing to do whatever it took to see the center block a single shot.
But he just sat there. And we just waited.
It wasn’t long after that when Hinkie dealt away center Spencer Hawes, and shooting guard Evan Turner, two of the few NBA-caliber players the Sixers seemed to have. If that didn’t test our patience enough, then the 26-game skid the team went on afterwards surely did.
How about in the 2014 NBA Draft when Hinkie drafted Joel Embiid with the third overall pick? The center from Kansas was pegged to go first overall until he suffered a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his right foot. That was enough to scare off a few of the high-picking teams. But do you think that would stop Sam from drafting him?
Oh wait, what was the Sixers’ GM’s next move? He traded our tenth overall pick, point guard Elfrid Payton (much to Michael Carter-Williams relief), for Dario Saric.
The forward from Croatia had signed a three-year contract with Anadolu Efes, a top-rated Turkish basketball team, just before the draft. Sam picked two players in that draft that were guaranteed not to play the following year.
So, what lesson did Hinkie teach us through all of his actions?
All good things come to those who wait.
Sep 29, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie talks with reporters during media day at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
For a year, we sat frustrated watching Nerlens Noel warming up the bench. In return, we received a shot blocking monster with flashes of a solid offensive game.
For a year, we suffered with a revolving door of guys on 10-day contracts. Now, we have players that are beginning to show some great potential. Some of the guys who were drafted, like K.J. McDaniels, were brought in with the extra picks Hinkie acquired from the mid-season trades that dealt away Hawes, Turner and Lavoy Allen .
For a few years we watched the likes of Hawes, Turner, and Allen play mediocre basketball and get the team caught between the league’s best and worst. However, this current team—though worse than it was a few years ago—is more exciting than the one before it. We see flashes of brilliance. Despite the team’s struggles, they are much more watchable than the Sixers’ team that went to the second-round of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
Is it because we have lower expectations for our current group? Or, is it because we’re becoming a more patient fan base?
It isn’t hard to believe that the real reason they’re more entertaining is because of the vision we are starting to buy into. The images we play in our minds of the Sixers’ going on a championship run for multiple years. The vision Mr. Sam Hinkie installed in all of us.
Well played Sam. Well played.
So now we wait for another year, this time we’re waiting on injured big Joel Embiid. Then we’ll wait another year for Dario Saric’s contract to expire so he can jump the pond and join the Sixers as they build up for a championship run. By then, I’m sure we’ll be waiting for another prospect or two.
Let’s just hope none of the top prospects get hurt in the 2015 NBA draft.