The Sixers are asking fans to place their blind trust in a management team with no track record of success and a rebuilding plan hinging on farfetched risks. They want the customers to accept a hedge-fund billionaire and a computer nerd as the saviors of their basketball team. No, thanks.
Philadelphia has had its share of snake-oil salesmen over the years, but none with the chutzpah that Sixers carpetbaggers Joshua Harris and Sam Hinkie are showing right now as they dismantle one of our major sports franchises. The past week was a vivid example of just how deep they are piling up the disrespect.
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First, Hinkie decided he didn’t have time to speak to the media during last Thursday night’s draft because a brief conversation with reporters would compromise his ability to pick the right players and make the right trades. No other team in sports banishes the media during the draft, but then again no other GM cares so little about the fans.
Meanwhile, after a 19-63 season that included a 26-game losing streak, Harris stood idly by while Hinkie snubbed the city. Of course, since Harris just moved the team’s practice facilities to Camden and recently purchased the New Jersey Devils, it’s a safe bet that he doesn’t give a damn about Philadelphia either.
The problem with Harris and Hinkie is, they are not believable on those rare occasions when they do talk. For example, one day after trying desperately to trade up to the top pick for Andrew Wiggins, the GM acted as if Joel Embiid were the prize of the draft, despite recent stress fractures in the seven-footer's right foot and back.
Harris and Hinkie want fans to accept the fact that Embiid could be the third straight big man obtained by the Sixers who will see no action in his first year here. First there was the Andrew Bynum knee debacle, and then Nerlens Noel’s slow recovery from an ACL tear last year. And now they actually want fans to applaud this Embiid crapshoot.
Surprisingly, what made last Thursday’s draft especially frustrating had nothing to do with Embiid or Noel. The fans were miffed by Hinkie’s maneuvering with the No. 10 pick that landed Dario Saric, the 6-10 Croatian prospect who is already under contract with a pro league in Turkey. Saric cannot play here for at least two seasons, if ever.
After the big gambles on Noel and Embiid, was it asking too much for Hinkie to grab a more established college player like Doug McDermott of Creighton or James Young of Kentucky with the 10th pick? Of course, it was. Hinkie doesn’t do what other GMs do. Geniuses are not conventional.
Unfortunately, Sam Hinkie is no genius. The only thing that is starting to make sense is his reluctance to talk. The more a snake-oil salesman speaks, the more likely it is that the customers will realize he’s a fraud.