Former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie stepped down from his position on Wednesday, but he went out with a bang. He wrote a 13-page resignation letter that read more like a manifesto than an admission of fault. In it, he explains his philosophy on how to build a team, including farming similes and specific advice for ownership going forward. There's even a reference to an extinct flightless bird that was native to New Zealand. It's a little out there.
Readers should check out the whole thing on ESPN, but here are the five oddest parts of the letter.
1. Hinkie was heartbroken about Robert Covington and Joel Anthony
It's not surprising to hear executives express regret over mistakes. Surely Kevin Pritchard now wishes he had taken Kevin Durant first overall when he was the Trail Blazers' GM. Former Timberwolves head man David Kahn would like to take back his decision to pick two point guards over Stephen Curry. Those are franchise-altering mistakes and it would be strange if the people who made them didn't feel remorse for the way things turned out.
Sam Hinkie knows their pain. By his account, he had two heartbreaking moments during his time running the 76ers. The first came when he couldn't sign undrafted free agent Robert Covington to a contract because he had to address the media after draft day:
"When I returned upstairs, the undrafted Robert Covington was gone, having agreed to play for another club's summer league team, eventually making their regular season roster. He torched the D-League that year, haunting me all the while. When he became available 17 months later, we pounced. But I shudder, even now, at that (nearly) missed opportunity."
The second was when the Celtics' Danny Ainge beat him to a trade for little-used Joel Anthony that would have netted Philadelphia the impressive haul of two second-round picks. Hinkie even gave Ainge his only Executive of the Year vote because of this brilliant maneuver.
Many of us remember exactly where we were when tragedy strikes and we think of what could have been. For me -- and this is sad for my own mental well being -- that list includes the January day in 2014 when Miami traded Joel Anthony and two second round picks to our formidable competitors the Celtics.
Covington is averaging 13 points on 39 percent shooting from the field since arriving in Philadelphia. He's a decent prospect, but really isn't shudder-worthy. (Plus, Hinkie got him anyway.) One of the two second-round picks the Celtics received in the Anthony trade became Jordan Mickey (54 total minutes played in his rookie year) and the other will be the 52nd overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Missing out on that package is not a tragedy, Sam.
2. Hinkie believes the 76ers "could do a lot worse" and urges owners not to "professionalize the operation"
Hinkie owns up to some of his mistakes, as we've seen, but clearly still feels he did a good job in his time with the 76ers. That belief is at its most obvious when he decides to go "scoreboard!" before ending his missive.
Regardless of the haul that comes out of a May night in New York, the team is likely to see additional lottery pick talent hit the court next season regardless. Two additional first round picks this year are available to you as well. Plus additional draft picks are set to flow in regularly for many years to come. Plus the league's best cap position. A bevy of young players. A deep and passionate coaching staff. An innovative management team. A beautiful new practice facility set to open before training camp. In a city with wonderful basketball heritage. You could do worse.
He's so convinced the team was on the right path that he asks the owners to stay on it, telling them to not "professionalize the operation."
We should concentrate our efforts in a few key areas in ways others had proven unwilling. We should attempt to gain a competitive advantage that had a chance to be lasting, hopefully one unforeseen enough by our competition to leapfrog them from a seemingly disadvantaged position. A goal that lofty is anything but certain. And it sure doesn't come from those that are content to color within the lines.
Shots fired at Jerry and Bryan Colangelo? We'll let you decide.
3. He quoted so many people. So. Many. People.
Here's a list of people Hinkie quoted or referenced in what was ostensibly a letter of resignation.
Here are the 14 non-basketball minds that Sam Hinkie referenced or cited in his 13-page resignation letter. pic.twitter.com/NajRPJoOmJ— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) April 7, 2016
Those are just the non-basketball people. He also quoted Jeff Van Gundy and Spurs owner Peter Holt, and mentioned Hank Iba, Red Auerbach, Dean Smith, Gregg Popovich, Daryl Morey, half of the Warriors' roster, Kevin Garnett, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, Stan Van Gundy and Mike D'Antoni. We are not counting former executives or 76ers players, or the list would double in size.
That is some impressive name-dropping.
4. He said "I will be repotted professionally." Really.
There are a lot of ways to say that you will find a new job. "I will be repotted professionally" is probably very low on most people's list. But then again Sam Hinkie is not most people.
5. Hinkie wanted competitors to believe he was doing a poor job to prevent them from copying him
For a long time, Hinkie barely talked to the media. Now, we know why. He was afraid that if he explained his brilliant plan to others, they would try to emulate it.
Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes the optimal place for your light is hiding directly under a bushel.
Tom Ziller breaks down why that sentence and the paragraph leading up to it can be linked to Hinkie's failure. Essentially, the man actually thought he had found a completely new way to build a winner.
And maybe he has! Two years from now, this letter could be considered the work of a visionary. For now, it seems like an attempt to salvage a legacy that was never built in the first place.
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