Sixers Announce Bryan Colangelo as President of Basketball Operations
Sixers held a press conference today to introduce Bryan Colangelo as the team’s new president of basketball operations.
Bryan Colangelo is the son of Jerry Colangelo, who was, prior to today, the Sixers’ chairman of basketball operations, a position he relinquished today. Jerry Colangelo will stay on as an advisor to the owners.
Heading into the press conference, Sixers’ co-managing owner Joshua Harris should have had two objectives. First, he needed to convince Sixers fans that the collection of young talent and upcoming draft picks was in good hands with Bryan Colangelo. Second, he needed to convince Sixers fans, leery of the obvious conclusion that the elder Colangelo had gotten his son a job, that they had performed an extensive search and Bryan was, just coincidentally, the best candidate they had vetted.
To his credit, Bryan Colangelo seemed to have acquitted himself well.
“This is one of the most exciting jobs, I believe, that’s out there in the league right now. It’s a situation where my predecessor, Sam Hinkie, has done a nice job of establishing the assets and the resources to move forward in a positive way,” Colangelo said. “We’re going to be measured in our continued building of this organization.
“I really want to make sure everyone understands that this is a transition from this measured rebuilding process to sustainable winning. That’s what is important to establish here. We will be pragmatic,” Colangelo concluded. “Nothing will be abandoned in terms of the collective intelligence that is in this organization. If there’s one thing that this organization has it’s brainpower and we’ll put that to use.”
Colangelo also sounded sincere in his stated desires to work with the Sixers’ former general manager, although neither Colangelo nor Harris would elaborate on exactly what Hinkie’s role, and job title, would have been if he remained with the club.
“There was always an intention when I was brought into this discussion that Sam [Hinkie] was going to be a part of this,” Colangelo said. “I actually spoke with Sam last night and told him I was disappointed that we weren’t going to be working together moving forward. I think that he was one of the brightest minds in basketball.”
The second part of the equation? That one Harris struggled with just a bit.
“The reality is Bryan was head and shoulders above every other candidate,” Harris said, confident in his selection. “Bryan’s record, and credentials, and experience in the NBA building two franchises, speak for themselves. He would have been anyone’s target.”
Granted, Sean Marks, Phil Jackson, David Griffin, Tim Connelly, Milt Newton, and Vlade Divac all took over their current positions since Bryan Colangelo was removed as general manager of the Toronto Raptors in May 2013. Some of that overlapped with Colangelo’s attempt to purchase the Atlanta Hawks, but I think, while you could perhaps say Colangelo would have been on everybody’s list, I think it’s also fair to say he hasn’t been everyone’s target.
Which brings us to the role of the elder Colangelo.
“It was sort of a no-brainer to get someone like that to advise you who had 50 years of basketball experience,” Harris said during the press conference, when talking about his decision to add Colangelo back in December.
It would then seem logical that the ownership group, made up of private equity billionaires with little to no basketball experience, would lean on said basketball-lifer, with over 50 years of basketball experience, when they set out to hire the most important basketball position in the company.
Instead, Jerry Colangelo recused himself from the entire process.
“Jerry, truthfully, and to be fair to Bryan and to be fair to himself and to be fair to us, recused himself from the entire process. He wasn’t involved,” Harris explained. “This was really my decision and now we’re managing the optics, and it just so happens that Bryan was the best guy for the job and we also had his Hall of Fame dad in the organization.”
Even if you believe Jerry Colangelo was not a part of the hiring process, which is an incredible stretch, why would the man in the organization most qualified to be able to judge the basketball acumen of a potential president of basketball operations decide not to be a part of the hiring process?
Harris went on to say it was a conflict of interest to have the elder Colangelo as part of the interview team.
“It’s a conflict of interest. It just didn’t make sense to involve him,” Harris said. “Bryan’s record and track record and credentials and experience speak for themselves.”
If Harris said Colangelo recused himself from the entire process because of a conflict of interest, does that mean Bryan Colangelo was the target from the beginning?
“Bryan’s record and credentials and experience in the NBA building two franchises speak for themselves,” Harris reiterated, avoiding the meat of the question.
Well, if they performed an exhaustive search, interviewed everybody they could, and it just so happens that Bryan Colangelo was the best person available for the job, so be it.
How many candidates did they interview before arriving at this conclusion?
“It’s not really fair to talk about how many people [were interviewed], and I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Harris said when asked how many they had interviewed for the position. “Not that many, but some.”
Hiring a president of basketball operations, without interviewing many candidates, will not sit well for many. Nor should it. That concern becomes even more pronounced when the candidate they arrived at just happens to be the son of the chairman of basketball operations, who also just happened to relinquish that title on the same day his son was introduced, a crazy coincidence that the team just now decides the chairman title was “nebulous” and unnecessary to describe Jerry Colangelo’s role.
Bryan Colangelo might end up being the right person for the job, with the right combination of experience, charisma, and connections around the league. His resume is one which warrants another chance. But he was put into an impossible position by his father, Joshua Harris, and a job search that appears to have been anything but.