Should the Sixers Woo Villanova’s Jay Wright?
Indulge me this post as I find a way to weave the resignation of Sam Hinkie as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers with the Villanova Wildcats winning the 2016 college basketball national championship.
The man who urged us to believe in his process of sucking on an NBA basketball floor in order to accumulate better draft picks that would hopefully build the foundation of a championship basketball team, jumped off the cliff last night before he had a chance to be pushed off. It is no big secret that Hinkie’s job — as he knew it — was in jeopardy once the Sixers hired Jerry Colangelo to be their president/overseer. Colangelo had his son Bryan, a former GM in the NBA, on ice, just waiting to be pulled out of the tub to take over the Sixers’ GM job.
In a nutshell, Hinkie was doomed by NBA league executives, who reportedly badgered a young Sixers ownership group for the disgraceful product they were putting out every night, into hiring Colangelo, who I suspect always had it in his mind to clip Hinkie in favor of his kid.
Make no mistake about it: Hinkie did his job to put the Sixers in a better place today, even though we had to suffer through the slings and arrows of putrid basketball. And he paid the ultimate price for it. All Colangelo the younger has to do now is preside over the Sixers’ young accumulated talent, trade a big man for some assets, and be astute in the draft — things Hinkie would have had to do this coming year anyway. The fear with Colangelo Jr., however, is that his pop will meddle, and the Sixers, instead of building with young players who can win the ultimate prize, will be relegated to a team that picks up mediocre veterans just to stay competitive and vie for the eighth seed in the playoffs – like it used to be when we had the Andre Inguodalas of the world.
In his 13-page manifesto resignation letter, Hinkie was, well, Hinkie — a strange and peculiar man who developed absolutely no connection to the fan base because of his reticence. The Sixers aren’t better off today without him. But since nobody really knew the guy anyway, nobody really cares that he’s gone.
His letter dropped the names of no less than 13 folks from society known as contrarians: Atul Gawande, Warren Buffett, Abraham Lincoln, Bill Belichick, Bill James, Elon Musk, and so on. A bit overdone, don’t you think? But the letter did make some sense when you steer some of the words toward the Sixers’ rebuilding process.
“A yearning for innovation requires real exploration,” Hinkie wrote. “It requires a persistent search to try (and fail) to move your understanding forward with a new tool, a new technique, a new insight. Sadly the first innovation often isn’t even all that helpful, but may well provide a path to ones that are. … Where finding your way through a labyrinth of ignorance requires you to first open a door into a room of understanding, one that by its very existence has new doors to new rooms with deeper insights lurking behind them.”
Now here’s the Villanova part. Jay Wright did one of the most amazing coaching jobs the world will ever witness in winning the national championship for the Wildcats. His game plans foiled two number one seeds (North Carolina and Kansas), a number two seed (Oklahoma) and a popular three seed (Miami).
If I’m Jerry Colangelo, who has headed USA basketball for many years – an organization for which Wright has coached – then I reach out immediately to hire him to be the next Sixers coach. If Hinkie is gone, then you might as well start over from Brett Brown as well.
In the world of big business, or NBA success, fairness may not often apply.