THERE IS NO knife in his back. No bullet flew through the window.
Subtract the intellect and the analytics and the disturbing manifesto and it distills to this:
Sam Hinkie quit.
Considering the circumstances, quitting was the most cowardly move of all.
Considering the man, that's simply too bad.
Hinkie compiled the worst roster in NBA history, mismanaged crisis situations and alienated everyone: his peers, the fans and the press. He raised a small army of supporters in his three seasons as general manager, but even their zeal waned as "The Process" slowed to a halt. The Sixers were a one-win disaster when owner Josh Harris hired Jerry Colangelo in December to oversee Hinkie. They were a 10-win mess when Hinkie resigned Wednesday.
Hinkie left before the imminent hiring of Colangelo's son, Bryan, which would marginalize Hinkie further.
Had Hinkie stayed he might have been fired, but if he was fired he could have claimed martyrdom to his ideals. He could assume credit if it ever comes due.
Instead, Hinkie typed a 13-page screed addressed to Sixers owners in which he painted himself as a tortured, unappreciated genius. He said he needed complete control of the franchise to correctly implement his long-view, groundbreaking ideas. He could not work effectively alongside shortsighted everymen like the Colangelos.
Yes; the arrogance is staggering.
Harris hired a Hall of Fame franchise builder in Colangelo; it would be like Jeffrey Lurie hiring Jerry Jones. Colangelo saw the debris left from Hinkie's demolition projects and decided that Bryan, a two-time NBA Executive of the Year, could help clean up the mess.
So, Hinkie gathered his toys and stomped out of the door.
In doing so, Hinkie forsook any credit and earned all of the blame. Stay, and he might share in the success; likely, he would help attain it.
Jerry Colangelo repeatedly insisted that he wanted Hinkie to stay aboard, but Hinkie abandoned ship. Yes, Harris reined in Hinkie after Hinkie embarrassed himself during the Jahlil Okafor street-fighting incidents, but there is zero evidence that Hinkie was betrayed or sabotaged. He was evaluated. He was found lacking in his performance, wanting in his abilities.
This in itself is no surprise.
Hinkie was handed the keys to a franchise at the age of 35. His only NBA experience involved the partial construction of the Houston Rockets, a perpetually underachieving team run by Daryl Morey. A fellow analytics disciple, Morey was elevated to GM status in 2007, when he was 35. So, Morey had no experience himself.
Hinkie trained under a dilettante.
Now, after his compilations went 47-195, he has run away. He planted his farewell pronouncement with ESPN, the entity that spent the last three years explaining and defending Hinkie's indefensible practices.
What made Hinkie's resignation letter so unsettling was his inclusion of so many quotations from famous unorthodox thinkers. He cited 13 innovators whose conviction to their innovations brought success. Anyone who spoke with Hinkie at length knows that he collected these maxims, which served him as a loose-leaf Bible. Anyone who spoke with him at length knows the sayings and philosophies were part of any conversation, as though he was incapable of original thought.
The overriding condescension of the 13-page letter undressed a crippling need for validation. It screamed:
LOOK HOW SMART AND WELL-READ I AM! I'M JUST AS SMART AS THESE GUYS! LOOK HOW STUPID YOU ARE FOR NOT APPRECIATING MY VISION! YOU'LL BE SORRY!
This evidence further verifies reports that Hinkie never formed sound relationships with other GMs and most agents. Why negotiate with a guy who thinks you're a dummy?
Hinkie's abrupt and bizarre departure should serve as a warning for any team that considers hiring him next. The waters that feed billion-dollar organizations are filled with all sorts of piranhas and sharks. Right now, he can't swim with them.
The Sixers might be lying but they have given no inkling that they would have fired Hinkie. Rather, they said, they sought to benefit from his remarkable intellect and his boundless energy.
The Sixers know that Sam Hinkie is a hard worker; a smart guy; a nice man. A good man. The kind of man you would want as your neighbor, or as a coach for your kid.
That's why all of this is so unfortunate. The Sixers saw value in Hinkie's voice. They were willing to let him listen and learn. Instead, he plugged his ears because he knew it all.
Here's hoping some other team sees value in Hinkie.
Here's hoping Hinkie will listen and, finally, learn.
@inkstainedretch Blog: ph.ly/DNL