Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports
by Yaron Weitzman
Non-Fiction: NBA / Grand Central Publishing
Published: March 17, 2020
One of the best lines in Yaron Weitzman’s NBA book: “Hinkie triggered a culture war.”
Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports deftly explores Hinkie’s Culture War branded as Trust The Process.
Sam Hinkie was the GM of the Philadelphia 76ers from 2013 to 2016. In Hinkie’s first season his Sixers won just 19 games and lost 63. Trust The Process?
“Wins were treated as signs of progress. Losses were part of the plan,” said Andrew Sharp, an NBA writer—and Sam Hinkie critic.
The Process focused on losing as opposed to the typical focus on winning. Which is an odd position for sports (and life. Nobody wants to be a loser; I assume most folks wanna be a winner?).
Determined losing also conflicts with the emotional makeup of athletes: the best players are optimists. They believe from high school (or earlier sometimes) they can get into the NBA despite the odds. The really great players Kobes and Jordans believe when their team is down 20 they can still come back.
Odds don’t intimated optimists. They’re opportunities.
Hence Hinkie’s culture war.
For most of the book Sam Hinkie operates in the shadows and it reminded me of the Nolan’s The Dark Knight. James Gordon says: “Because we have to chase him. Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now, so we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it, because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a Dark Knight.”
And so: was Hinkie a hero or did he live long enough to see himself become the villain?
Fascinating book covering a unique NBA story. It left me so conflicted with so many unresolved emotions.
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