Sam Hinkie: Top Ten Myths About the 76ers GM


In a recent post, I came under fire for being critical of some media pundits and certain portions of the fan base in regards to 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie. There is a litany of complaints aimed at Hinkie and many of them are both mistaken and fabricated. The methodology used in disparaging Hinkie is closely aligned to a state propaganda campaign and almost seems intentionally designed to mislead, although I think most Hinkie detractors actually believe what they are saying.

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Here is a  list of the leading and prevailing Sam Hinkie myths:

Myth Number 1: Analytics, research, and numbers cannot be used to assemble a professional franchise; and it signals that a team is not being run by a basketball person.

Reality: First of all, this is just a tool. Second, we should not hate what we don’t understand. Basketball analytics might be a fancy term for in depth team and individual player analysis, but it is also a very common and prevailing methodology. Moreover, former players and coaches with technical expertise and knowledge of a floor game advocate analytics. It does not use numbers to undermine intangibles and intuitive skill sets. What does a team and the players do on a possession and per minute basis? Successful teams want to know. Even if some of it is flimflam, it might be interesting to try it.

Myth Number 2: The Sixers are the least interesting (and furthest from a title) team in the city.

Reality: We have no way of knowing this of course but I believe that the Sixers are closer to any other Philly team with the exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, but even that is a close call and hard to say. Also, the “tanking” has many people talking about the team and the interest in the 76ers is being brought on by the epic rebuild. I will say that the college teams get more attention in this city; partially due to its excellence, partly due to a pro-basketball and cultural disconnect.

Myth Number 3: Sam Hinkie is damaging the integrity of the league.

Reality: In a league that has featured point shaving, referee bias, discrimination, corrupt franchise moves, gambling issues and more? I love the NBA but I can’t allow history to get trumped by memory and watch Hinkie disparaged to that extent. He may be a little dark and a bottom-line guy, but I think the plan has some moral center that can hold.

Myth Number 4: The Hinkie plan is doomed to failure because it is without precedent.

Reality: Back in the day the Houston Rockets and the Chicago Bulls threw the end of their seasons in order to acquire Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan. They were both okay players as you recall and the teams won. Former Commissioner Stern had to change the lottery format multiple times over a course of decades to get where we are now, which is nowhere near as bad. Hinkie looks like a school kid compared to those execs of a bygone era. Malcolm Gladwell has documented most of this.

Myth Number 5: High caliber free-agent talents will not want to come and play in Philadelphia.

Reality: This keeps getting repeated and is likely false. Hinkie is building via the draft and if he has the money and other teams do not, the Sixers will be in a position to afford quality free agents whereas many other teams won’t. This is the core of the process that is under discussed. Keith Pompey is a great writer, my favorite, and perhaps the best there is at following the 76ers, but I disagree with him on this.

Myth Number 6: The Sixers should rebuild in an orthodox way and this stands as their best chance.

Reality: Larry Brown is an all-time great coach with an incredible basketball acumen, but I disagree. They haven’t won a title since 1983 so I think change is good.

Myth Number 7: The Sixers would be admired if they implemented an orthodox rebuild.

Reality: Most Eagles, Phillies and Flyers fans consider the 76ers an anecdotal aside. Sad but true. And if basketball is watched it is at the Palestra.

Myth Number 8: The Sixers need a lineup more than they need talent.

Reality: In two or three years, this will be the case, but not yet, I feel.

Myth Number 9: The Sixers are tanking.

Reality: They are rebuilding. Tanking is also false by policy and definition. Even Commissioner Silver says this is not tanking. Before Adam Silver ever supported Hinkie David Stern changed the lottery format several times to prohibit tanking. If you go back and look at 1984-1985, 1989-1990, and 1992-1993 in terms of drafting mechanisms you will notice an evolution to penalize teams with uncertainty, when it was perceived that they were vying for the top player.

Myth Number 10: If Hinkie fails, it will mean that the Flyers, Eagles and Phillies have sound games plans in terms of management.

Reality: What does Hinkie have to lose? A sport in a town that ranks fourth even when they are good? A title they haven’t won since 1983 anyway? If Hinkie had been in charge since 1983 how many more playoff games do they think they would win? I say much more.

I could see looking back at these articles with regret twenty years from now if Hinkie went in and did this to a better team. I could also see regretting these articles in twenty years if the Phillies, Eagles and Flyers all won titles before the Sixers and Hinkie.

Furthermore, I do not regret whatsoever being mildly critical of the fan base’s perspective and cultural assumptions about the Sixers roster and overall devaluing of the franchise based on a rockabilly love of the more blue collar sports that I also support myself. I’m 4 for 4.

We might need to be educable when it comes to our sports, or try. A required sensitivity should be obvious to anyone who knows something about American history or sports in our beloved town.

Next: Furkan Aldemir: What To Expect This Year