One of my college professors had a rule after she returned graded papers or tests: don’t email or talk to her about the grade until 24 hours after getting it back. She wanted students to take those 24 hours to analyze where they might have gone wrong; she didn’t want students to automatically assume that the professor made the mistake. It’s a great rule. Certain situations trigger angry emotions immediately. But that rule serves a major purpose to not overreact right away.
I began with that because I wanted to write something immediately last night about Sam Hinkie, but thought, maybe I should wait and listen to professional people’s thoughts. I read some pro-Hinkie pieces. I read some anti-Hinkie pieces. I listened to Zach Lowe speak for 10 minutes about Hinkie. And then Woj reported Jerry Colangelo’s involvement, and how Colangelo might’ve been the one that leaked Hinkie’s letter to ESPN.
It’s impossible to say that Bryan Colangelo will do a good job or not. I feel similar to when the Eagles fired Chip Kelly and replaced him with Doug Pederson. Pederson only was an assistant under former Eagle coach Andy Reid; so hiring Pederson represented a “family-like” decision for the Eagles ownership. Many, many people hated the hiring of Pederson, but it’s not Pederson’s fault Philadelphia hired him. That noise has died down because of time and the moves Howie Roseman made in free agency. Bryan Colangelo isn’t the worst general manager ever. And even if he does a good job, and he has every opportunity to with what Hinkie left him, it doesn’t matter. Ownership abandoned Hinkie. Even though Hinkie explained the course quarterly to ownership, ownership gave up on Sam Hinkie.
It’s no secret I enjoyed what Hinkie was doing. It’s easy to judge something that’s not even halfway finished. It’s easy to dismiss what Hinkie did because of wins and losses. Anyone can criticize a bad product. People thought Hinkie was a scam. People wanted Hinkie to tell every single person his plan in chronological order. Hinkie did things differently, which is something the 76ers desperately needed. Good things take time. Great things take even longer. Hinkie should be manning this operation until it’s complete.
People need answers right away. Who will be a better pro: Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins? Who has a better future: the Milwaukee Bucks or Utah Jazz? Who won the trade: Detroit Pistons or Orlando Magic? Fans love this stuff. Writers love creating this stuff. It creates conversation. It creates arguments. Writers have their responsibilities. They have to write columns, opinions and features. They have to dig out information, and whatever they can find they have to do their best job to tell that story. I get that. I understand Hinkie wasn’t media friendly during his time. Brett Brown was the person who had to answer the tough questions. Brown had to coach a losing team. But things shouldn’t be judged right away. Great things take time. And believe it or not, Hinkie was building something great in Philadelphia.
Why would Hinkie draft three straight big men? Hinkie took arguably the best player available in his draft spot each year. Maybe Kristaps Porzingis would’ve been a better pick than Jahlil Okafor, but many people predicted Okafor would have better immediate success, which would help the 76ers trade him for a valuable player or draft pick. That’s why you draft Okafor: to trade him, or at least have the option to trade him. Hinkie would still be the general manager if the Lakers did what Hinkie thought the Lakers would do: draft Okafor second overall. Hinkie would draft D’Angelo Russell. Philly would have their point guard, and Philly wouldn’t have a logjam inside.
Many fans invested lots of time the last three years to the 76ers. The losses mounted, the draft picks increased and chatter (pro or anti Hinkie) continued. It’s a weird feeling knowing Bryan Colangelo is taking over Hinkie’s duties come Monday. The Colangelo’s will try and make the 76ers competitive next year. Maybe they’ll trade Okafor. Maybe they’ll sign Harrison Barnes to a max contract offer sheet. All the anti-Hinkie people will point to whatever win total increase Philadelphia makes as a gift from the Colangelo’s. And that’s a shame.
Hinkie didn’t bail on the 76ers; the owners bailed on him.