76ers’ Sam Hinkie Illustrates a Generational Divide


Does Sam Hinkie have a lot of fans? One perception is that yes, he does have a considerable amount of fans in the city of Philadelphia as a majority of Philadelphia 76ers fans accept and favor the rebuild.

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Who are they? They essentially consist of two camps on the pro-Hinkie side.

One set of Hinkie following and adherents that “trust the process” fall within the younger generation fan base. They have a broader acceptance and understanding of sports in the modern era of free agency, asset collecting, trading, and the draft.

They are less nostalgic and were raised in a more tolerant and worldly appreciation for sports, and how the market drives the new spirit of the age – in athletics, especially basketball, and the most innovative professional sports league in American history.

Another sect of pro-Hinkie following and support comes from die hard Sixers and basketball fans regardless of age who realize that you can build cash leverage and eventual free agency capacity when other teams in the league draft poorly and over spend. Hinkie is also a smart basketball person that understands x’s and o’s and how coaching philosophy and a clinical and technical game plan meets the desires of management.

Make no mistake about it. Hinkie is a basketball guy before he is a business elite. The Sixers have not won a title since 1983 and have not been to a title game since 2001 so the Hinkie leash is long. And it should be even longer when you consider the title success of the Eagles, Phillies and Flyers.

Why does Hinkie have so many fans?

Josh Folck writes:

"“For a demanding sports town that is desperate for another title, it’s kind of odd for a general manager who has accomplished so little to be so embraced by a section of the fan base.”"

First of all, I am uncertain he has that many fans. The first two camps I mentioned seem large because they have been the most eloquent in support of the 76ers and really care about the team. The question should not be why does Hinkie have support of some fans, but why would anyone question the plan at all? And from people who should know a lot better.

I have noticed a host a signs, some disturbing, that explain the general Hinkie mistrust.

For starters, most Hinkie detractors are people who do not follow basketball all that much anyway and they seem to be expressing interest in the 76ers only now when the GM is acting “controversially.” And the team is bad and will be again next year. The Sixers will most likely win a title before the Eagles and that is not considered possible by anti-Hinkies.

When you look at the Philly fans that are anti-Hinkie what you notice is that they have been locked into a mindset that league purgatory with the city’s franchises are inevitable and natural, even welcomed. The amount of disdain aimed at Hinkie in proportion to the real failings of the city are criminal and dishonest not to mention suspicious.

Anti-Hinkie sentiment comes from ignorance, a dishonest and cynical failure to compare the 76ers to the teams they love, and basketball illiteracy. The city is aging and greying while browning, and this adds to indirect Hinkie obsession and criticism as well.

The 76ers, when they are okay, or even a little bit good, still fall far behind the other teams in following, and for that matter behind the Philadelphia Big Five and Drexel Men’s basketball teams. There is also no doubt a superior aura and veiled disrespect for the Sixers personnel in relation to their potential and this vitriol makes its way to Hinkie.

It is amazing how for years, some Philadelphia sports fans followed the Big Five not for its basketball, but for how comfortable they were with the least popular and most diverse sport left to the exploited amateurs. We could parade our working class delusions and pretend to be like the NBA-less city of Pittsburgh.

Andrew Bynum’s situation was terrible and even his disposition, off putting and disastrous, but the amount of hurtful rhetoric directed at him when other Philadelphia athletes were misguided was astounding and with very few exceptions.

These sentiments are the roots of Hinkie and 76ers disdain. Jonathon Papelbon, Ilya Bryzalov and numerous Eagle talents and prospects that disappoint and behave crudely over the years go virtually unnoticed by comparison and certainly management does not get connected to it. With the Sixers, it’s all in play.

Rob Charry of Philly WIP radio verbalized and speculated on air that potential 76er Emmanuel Mudiay went to China instead of SMU “because of bad grades.” This was cynically asserted in the form of a question. In fact, Mudiay is very intelligent and experienced loss in a desperate geographical location so he needed money for his family. He would have been a fine student at SMU and it’s possible that he could think circles around Chase Utley and the entire Flyers roster. This is the Philly media’s tone and prejudice that serves as the doubt of Hinkie and the young players or prospects. Hinkie didn’t select Mudiay but received criticism for merely considering him.

Jody Mack, another commentator, and highly accomplished, is anti-Hinkie as well. Not because he misunderstands it, but because he’d maybe rather the 76ers to be in NBA purgatory. At least he is honest. But he too, is misguided in my view. The Sixers might be scrutinized by Mack even if the Hinkie plan works. He disagrees with it as a business mode and overall strategy.

The Delaware Valley also has many pockets and areas and regions that have dangerous outlooks of the Sixers. Writers and sports commentators need to stop reinforcing and inciting the Philly fan base that would rather replay the Broad Street Bullies in their minds over and over again than experiment with a Hinkie tear down and rebuild.

I support you Dark Lord, Go Sixers.

Next: 76ers Turn 2015 Setbacks Into Success