Philadelphia 76ers: The Rebuild Will Always Bring Controversy


You flip a coin and guess which side it lands on. If you guess right, you win $10. If you guess wrong, you lose $10. There are some situations that bring pure risk. Either you win or you lose, it works or it doesn’t. Sam Hinkie is considered a “messiah” to some Sixers fans, and just another rich guy who can’t build a championship sports team to other Sixers fans. No matter which way you view it, the fact is that the Sixers are in midst of pioneering a new way to rebuild a team destined to be locked into the dreaded 7th/8th seed cage of mediocrity that many other teams seem to find themselves struggling to get out of every year.

In this instance, I guess you can say Hinkie’s plan succeeded. The Andre Iguodala led Sixers that found themselves barely making the playoffs every year only to be knocked out in the first round (excluding the 2012 playoffs, where the team took down an injured Bulls team) ultimately turned into a team full of unknowns destined to put the team near the top of the draft board, but there still is long path ahead for this polarized “process”.

I’m sure by now that most fans have read the hotly debated piece about the progress of the rebuild written by Brian Geltzeiler (if not, click here), and some of you probably saw the rebuttal by the Liberty Ballers site. Basically, both pieces represent two ends of the Sixers rebuild spectrum. One piece showing its negatives and another piece defending its reasoning. This has been a debate among the basketball world ever since the ownership group piled into Philadelphia, introducing the city to basketball analytics, which was something that seemed like a foreign language to most fans in the city.

Some reporters fell towards the side of believing in the rebuild, while others looked at the innovative way to rebuild and immediately opposed. Two seasons later, nothing has changed these opinions. At the end of the day, people will have opinions of this process no matter what happens, no matter who gets injured, no matter who gets drafted, no matter how many wins are left on the table at the end of the season. We will all have an opinion that we think is right.

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The rebuild is a situation that writers and reporters love to speculate about, but really is it anything more than just someone guessing about what will happen? Nobody really knows. Not even Sam Hinkie or owner Josh Harris truly knows what will be the outcome of this investment, much like any investment ever made. We can guess that the Sixers will win a championship in three years. We can also guess the plan will fold next season and a new regime will start. IT’S A GUESS.

But here is something we do know. We know that Harris and his posse came to Philly and hired an unorthodox GM to try and revolutionize basketball to fans of a team that was often an afterthought to a city filled with recently successful sports teams, and did just that. Philadelphia sports fans and patience don’t mix, usually. So, when the Sixers unrolled a plan with an expected outcome that may take close to a decade to play out, it was completely shocking to see such acceptance from the fanbase. Maybe that’s why some people may view the Hinkie believers as a “cultish” group or even insane. For a fanbase to invest their belief in such a long-term plan is indeed revolutionary, so it is only natural that controversy follows it.

This plan may indeed see the Sixers become a version of the Golden State Warriors. A team that went from bad, to good, to unstoppable. The plan may see them follow the Houston Rockets, who have become a force in the West, but still haven’t produced a championship. Or it could turn the Sixers into the Sacramento Kings, a team that causes confusion and with no clear plan for the future. Either way, there is controversy.

The Sixers could indeed bring home a championship in three years, but even then there will be debate on whether the strategy of tanking should be allowed in the league. Purposely putting a team on the court to lose games isn’t a strategy other owners are warming up too, and seeing the once tanking Sixers hoist the O’Brien trophy will surely tick someone off in the NBA world. Or maybe the league copies the Sixers model, and teams start tanking left and right. That certainly wouldn’t be a good look for the NBA as a competitive league.

Maybe the Sixers become a team that contends every year but falls short of winning. The critics would have a field day of making the headlines “Years of Tanking Leads to Team That Can’t Win.” Even if the Sixers become a perennial two seed, it won’t be good enough if it doesn’t translate to trophies, by most critics standards. A critics dream would be that the Sixers’ tank plan formulates just more and more seasons of 20 wins and chain themselves to the NBA’s cellar for years to come.

The point is, no matter the result, Hinkie’s plan has been innovative in such a way that it will be the center of debate for years to come, so don’t strain yourself trying to show your love or distain for the process. I’m not saying to not share your opinions, but just be prepared to engage into a never ending debate. For now, enjoy the madness and unknowingness that is “The Process” and whatever opinion you have of it because soon enough there will be an outcome, and knowing that outcome will water down the brilliance of Harris and Hinkie’s pure risk.

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