• Jacob Smith: The curious case of the Philadelphia 76ers

    By Jacob Smith -

    For the last 15-20 years, the Philadelphia 76ers have toiled helplessly in the realms of mediocrity in the NBA. 

    When I was a child, I loved Allen Iverson. How could you not like a guy that was shorter than the average player by about half a foot who routinely was a candidate for Most Valuable Player?

    After Iverson left, though, the 76ers didn’t have a whole lot going for them. There wasn’t really a superstar player on the team, and they never really did better than making the NBA Playoffs as a low seed just to get put out immediately. 

    Enter Sam Hinkie. 

    Hinkie was hired as general manager of the 76ers in 2013, and he started what he called and what is now famously known as “the process.”

    The basic idea of the process is to forego the middle of the pack seasons the team had grown known for and effectively lose as much as possible. Fans were understandably furious. Who wants their team to try to lose? Hinkie was always quick to reassure them, though. “Trust the process,” he said. 

    His ultimate goal was NBA lottery draft picks, a chance to rebuild the team with promising players straight out of college. With the lottery picks, the 76ers started to build a team primed for championship runs. In the process, though, they lost Hinkie. He resigned in 2016 after a 1-21 start to the season. 

    This is where it gets weird, though. With the draft picks the team had accumulated, they selected two legitimate franchise players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and another promising young player in Markelle Fultz. This year marked the first year where people got to see this team’s potential as they made a deep run in the playoffs with three young players at the helm. 

    Of course, now that success is at the doorway and the fans can see what Hinkie was working toward, he’s revered in the city, leaving new general manager Bryan Colangelo the subject of much skepticism. Can he finish the job Hinkie started? A lot of fans are skeptical. 

    There are good ways and bad ways to respond to pressure, and I think I can objectively say Colangelo chose the bad way. 

    Near the end of the season, an anonymous source that specialized in artificial intelligence research reached out to a reporter with Bleacher Report and told him that he had discovered something strange. 

    What he discovered was there were five Twitter accounts that he believed were operated by Colangelo. He had substantial evidence behind his claim, so the reporter reached out to Colangelo, but only asked him about two of the accounts. 

    Colangelo openly admitted to owning one of them, but immediately following the phone call, the other three Twitter accounts all went private at the same time. Some people did some digging and found that the email and phone number belonging to the Twitter accounts matched Colangelo’s wife. 

    Obviously, it’s not a crime to own multiple Twitter accounts, but in these five accounts, the owner of them repeatedly talks down about Hinkie, and even worse, the star of the 76ers, Joel Embiid. 

    It will be interesting to see where this story goes during the off-season. Several fans are pushing for Colangelo to resign so the team can resign Hinkie as the general manager. 

    Whatever happens, with the talent they’ve accumulated and the behind the scenes drama that has unfolded, next season is sure to be an interesting one for the 76ers. 

    Jacob Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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