Friday, April 8, 2016

Requiem for The Process

Here lies "The Process" (2013-2016).  With Sam Hinkie's resignation on Wednesday night, the era known as The Process came to an end in Philadelphia.  Over the past three years, the Philadelphia 76ers have had the worst winning percentage of any team (though only having the worst overall record in one season) and have gotten worse every year.  In doing so however, they were able to acquire numerous draft picks, several young talents that have yet to all play on the same court, and shed payroll to the bone.  Most fans that do not have intimate knowledge of The Process will probably not understand, but Hinkie's resignation was a death knell for a huge number of Sixers fans, and any future success the Sixers have will seem hollow for those who "trusted the process."

I have highlighted it before, but I will briefly recap again where the Sixers were when Sam Hinkie was hired as GM.  After the glory years with Allen Iverson as the team's centerpiece, the Sixers were mired in mediocrity.  From 2003 to 2012 the Sixers finished anywhere from 6th to 13th in the East, and only won one playoff series (thanks in major part to an injured Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah).  In an attempt to escape this mediocrity, the Sixers GM and new owners decided to swing for the fences.  They traded most of their current and future assets to acquire Andrew Bynum.  Boom.  Bynum never played a minute and the Sixers were sunk.  Enter new GM Sam Hinkie.  The only man willing to take on this train wreck of a franchise.

From the get go, Hinkie admitted that he was going to rebuild the team from the ground up and that it was going to take time.  Surprisingly, Sixers ownership seemed ok with it.  This radical new plan clicked with a lot of Sixers fans.  Sixers fans were used to bad drafts, (Sharone Wright, Shawn Bradley, Larry Hughes) bad signings, (Elton Brand, Kenny Thomas) and some of the worst trades of all-time (Charles Barkley, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain all shipped out for nothing).  Seeing Sam Hinkie fleece other teams in trades, expunge bad contracts, pile up draft picks and draft reasonably well gave us hope.  This new plan was radical, but Sixers fans needed something different and were ready to embrace it.

Fast forward to three years later.  The Sixers have started the season 1-30, the team has no point guard, and Jahlil Okafor is getting in to street fights in Boston.  As a result, Sixers ownership decides (perhaps at the prodding of the NBA) to bring in respected, yet unemployed and a dinosaur, former GM Jerry Colangelo as special advisor.  "Bring in" might not be the right word since he has maybe been to Philly three times since he was hired in December.  Colangelo swiftly hired Mike D'Antoni as an assistant coach and swung a trade for point guard Ish Smith.  The Sixers responded with a few wins, and Colangelo looked like a genius.  Colangelo used this favorable reception to minimize Sam Hinkie's role at every turn, and make him look bad with the media whenever he could.  Fast forward a few more months and the Sixers are just as bad as they were before Colangelo was brought in.  Yet somehow, Colangelo has become the only voice of the Sixers front office.  These Sixers owners that were once totally committed to The Process have pulled a complete 180.  As a result, Hinkie felt that he was being forced out (and might have been told as much) and penned his beautiful resignation manifesto.  I know I won't be able to persuade you to read the whole thing, but I did.  Hinkie was a genius, and it comes through in his letter.

So why are Sixers fans so mad?  There are several reasons, which I will try to break down with minimal rambling (good luck).  Here they are in bullet form:

  • The Sixers owners are full of shit: They were committed to this process for 3 seasons.  Why change your mind now?  Because Jahlil Okafor got in a fight?  Because the losing got to be too much?  If it was that bad, fire Hinkie.  Don't neuter him publicly like you did.  You gave him no choice.
  • Jerry Colangelo is a piece of shit: For so many reasons.  He badmouthed Hinkie at every turn publicly.  He leaked so many things (including the wonderful letter that Hinkie wrote) that were private to make Hinkie look bad.  He doesn't even live in Philly, and has only been to the city a handful of times, yet took increasing control of the team.
  • The worst was almost over: This season was awful.  No question.  But you can't tell me that the team won't be significantly improved next season with three (possibly four) first round picks, the return of a hopefully healthy Joel Embiid, Dario Saric joining the team from Europe, and a ton of money to sign free agents.  Ownership knew this was going to take time, and they forced Hinkie out the door when it was 80% complete.
  • Colangelo hired his fucking son to be GM: And waited all of an hour after Hinkie resigned to do it.  Did he conduct an interview process?  Did he even look past the speed dial on his phone?  That is indefensible.
  • Fear: Sixers fans are deathly afraid that these draft picks will be squandered, money will be wasted, and mediocrity will return now that Hinkie is gone.
  • Owners have said nothing: One of the things the media was critical of Sam Hinkie for was how he failed to address Jahlil Okafor's off court troubles in a timely manner.  Hinkie has now been resigned for two days.  Has anyone from the Sixers brass said anything?  Nope.  We have a press conference scheduled for tomorrow.  Let's see if anything of substance is said in that.
As we often discuss, the success of a franchise starts at the top.  The Sixers owners looked like they were committed to pursuing a different path, similar to some of the radical methods that have been so successful in other sports.  Towards the finish line, they lost patience with their idea and look more like the same shitty Sixers owners that we have always had.  That is the truly depressing fact of this whole thing.  Even though we sucked, Sixers fans had hope.  Now that has been stolen from us as well.  This whole thing just sucks. If you read this whole thing, good for you.  Whatever.