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This story appears in ESPN The Magazines July 18 Body Issue. Black Friday Spurs Jerseys . Subscribe today!As Ben Simmons rose from his seat to begin his ceremonial march to the NBA, he tugged on a flat-brimmed 76ers cap. How Philadelphia ended up drafting Simmons on June 23 is a story three years in the making -- but one thats perhaps lost on the No. 1 pick. Two days earlier, the 6-foot-10 forward had posted an Instagram photo of his workout with the 76ers with the caption: Trust the process. When later asked by a reporter if he understood the phrases significance, he replied: A little bit. I know its been said around a lot of the Sixers community. The scores of Sixers fans who made the trek to Barclays Center on draft night fully understood the phrases meaning, though. And as they cheered Simmons selection, one fan thrust a homemade poster into the air. It read: Hinkie died for your sins.THREE MONTHS BEFORE the draft, and three weeks before he ended the NBAs most controversial experiment in team-building through corporate hara-kiri, Sam Hinkie sat in the food court of a Providence mall and plowed his way through a chalupa. It was the opening day of the NCAA tournament, and spectators had rushed straight from watching Yale upend Baylor to seek something resembling nourishment. On the street below, St. Patricks Day revelers crawled from one pub to the next, clad in all manner of green. And there, just beyond the growing line at Taco Bell, sat the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, inconspicuous as ever.Hinkie had just begun working to change that image. In three years at the helm of the Sixers, hed been only slightly less secretive than SEAL Team 6, closing himself off to such a degree that most reporters had stopped bothering to ask for interviews. But in early March, after weeks of discussions, Hinkie had agreed to allow ESPN The Magazine to join him on a scouting trip. It was the first of two on-the-record, hourslong conversations designed to shed light on the player evaluations behind his rebuilding plan. It was time, he sensed, to open up.The time, it turns out, was too late.Hinkie resigned as the Sixers GM on April 6, penning a 13-page letter to the teams investors that inspired intense, contrasting reactions. The note, which was quickly leaked, became fodder for a last round of jokes from his detractors while also reading as a final salvo for the true believers in the three-year teardown now widely known as Hinkies Process. But if Hinkie knew he was on his way out in March, he had an odd way of showing it. His words from those interviews now read as blindly prophetic, like those of a man pondering his own death without knowing that it was imminent.So many of my friends will tell me, Dont do that. Dont try that. Its going to end poorly. Theyll run you out, Hinkie would later say. And thats the reason to do it, because fear has been the motivating factor for way too many people for way too long. Theres a huge agency problem in the whole business, particularly in my role: Keep the job.A week after the second interview, the architect of the boldest rebuilding project in NBA history would be gone -- undone by the very realities he hoped would never apply in Philadelphia. But its how he was undone thats most telling of all and suggests how leagues are prone to respond when forced to face truths about themselves.ON THE NIGHT of the 2016 NBA draft lottery, six weeks after Hinkies resignation, there was no question how some Sixers fans still felt about Hinkie.In Phillys Xfinity Live, a massive sports bar/venue not 500 yards from Wells Fargo Center, hundreds of fans celebrated the announcement of the teams first No.?1 pick since 1996. Search for the YouTube video and youll see it, a throng of partisans, gleefully chanting: THANK you, HINkie-clap, clap, clap-clap-clap ... THANK you, HINkie-clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. What they were celebrating was Hinkies parting gift to Philadelphia, three seasons in the wrapping.Hed bet much of his future on an endless pursuit of star-level talent, a pipeline that runs almost exclusively through the top of the NBA draft. Over the past five seasons, more than 60 percent of the players who made an All-NBA team were top-five picks (and 76 percent came from the top 10).To get a shot at one of these premium players, then, a team must lose a lot of games. And the Sixers succeeded in that with ruthless efficiency: Their 47 wins in Hinkies three seasons was the second-worst three-year stretch in NBA history. All part of the process, which is why he was a hero to those fans on draft night.In the minds of his critics, though, he failed on every level, and it was getting harder to ignore them. During his tenure in Philly, Hinkie had frequently confessed that he didnt mind being misunderstood and even embraced it. I think to perfectly understand somebody is to predict their next move, he said.But in the final months of his tenure, Hinkie had begun to see the danger in allowing others to control the narrative of the franchise he ran. (There was also the little matter of the Sixers having hired Jerry Colangelo in December as chairman of basketball operations. The barbarians were at the gate.)Hinkie, the story went, was impersonal and aloof -- high school valedictorian, Stanford Arjay Miller Scholar, Bain consultant, a nerd glued to a laptop, an MBA who treated players as commodities. Definitely not a basketball guy.The perception of Hinkie had arguably reached a point where it was damaging the Sixers brand. During his time in Philly, hed developed, for example, a reputation as a dogged negotiator. Knowing that he had unusual leverage -- Phillys unused cap space -- he would aim to extract as much blood as possible in deals. But an industry with only 29 other businesses necessitates dealing with the same people over and over again.There has to be a level of understanding, a level of trust between teams, one former GM says. I think Sam had a hard time opening up in that process. If you are trying to win the deal each time, thats fine, as long as the other side gets a win too. But if you are trying to kill them, then it makes it harder to work with them in the future.Adds one Western Conference executive: Sams a hard-nosed negotiator, which is intimidating to some people. Theres a bit of whats behind the curtain? with Sam. People dont know what his factors are. Its not as straightforward as I like that guy.Agents had their own concerns. Hinkie became known for drafting players in the second round and signing them to four-year partially guaranteed contracts. Without any leverage, agents were forced to accept those team-friendly terms, but they didnt have to like it.Those decisions had consequences: Agents and rival GMs were happy to turn Hinkie into the embodiment of every negative stereotype of the analytics movement.I think Sam is a pure analytics guy, says David Falk, who gained fame in the late 1980s as Michael Jordans agent and still represents a small list of clients. I dont think they had enough pure basketball people. While theres a lot more utilization of analytics, its like painting by the numbers. And you cant paint a masterpiece by the numbers.On this point, Hinkie is adamant: More than anything else, he loathes the idea that he was representing a movement. And so it was that a week before he would step down as GM, Hinkie found a seat at La Colombe, a spacious coffeehouse in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, booted up his laptop and spent three hours breaking down even the most minor, subtle actions on the court, eager to demonstrate his basketball chops.His single goal, he said time and again, was to build a championship contender, not to prove to the world that a particular kind of thinking was superior: Its the caricature everybody wants to talk about -- that all we have is a screen and we dont treat people like people. It is ridiculous. And the more we talk about it, the more others talk about it. ?And talk about it they did.Were in a competitive business, says one Western Conference exec. I think a lot of people feared what Sam was doing: What if it works? It will become the new model.Adds the former GM, There was a perception that Sam thought he was smarter than everyone else.ITS HARD TO defend a man whose team is coming off a 10-win season. Philly actually won more games during each of the first two years of Hinkies tenure.But progress is rarely linear. The 76ers now have Simmons as a potential franchise cornerstone. Joel Embiid, whom Hinkie drafted No. 3 in 2014, might finally be healthy; players who competed against him in open gyms prior to his second foot surgery last summer gushed over his talent. Forward Dario Saric is scheduled to arrive from Europe two seasons after being drafted in the first round. Add those players to recent top picks Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel, plus an abundance of salary cap space, and its not hard to see how much better next years Sixers should be.Says one Western Conference GM: I really believe what Hinkie did was break something down masterfully. People say you can just tank and get picks. Sam did so much more. His deals brought multiple picks back every time. I never saw someone do more deals with more moving parts in such a short amount of time.To wit: Hinkie pillaged Sacramento last July by taking on the contracts of Carl Landry and Jason Thompson to acquire Nik Stauskas along with a 2018 first-round pick and the right to swap first-rounders in 2016 or 2017.In 2015, he flipped former rookie of the year (and current marginal starter) Michael Carter-Williams for the rights to a future Lakers first-round pick. During the 2014 draft, Hinkie picked Elfrid Payton 10th, getting a player Orlando wanted, then negotiated a trade with the Magic that netted the Sixers No. 12 pick Saric, a second-rounder and a conditional future first -- all to move back just two spots.A multitude of moves, all part of The Process. And back at the coffeehouse on that bright March afternoon in Fishtown, Hinkie couldnt hide his enthusiasm. I think things are going to feel very different very soon for our fans, our players, our coaches, our staff, he said. I think people havent fully realized what different level of talent is about to hit our team in a variety of ways -- draft, free agency, trade. I think youll see a real change in how we approach things going forward. Well be increasingly focused on fit.Now that job belongs to Bryan Colangelo, son of Jerry Colangelo and former GM of the Raptors and Suns. Why Sixers ownership picked this moment to make that move, with the franchise so close to the end of its tunnel of foulness, is complicated. In some ways, it is evidence that The Process worked.Adam Silver admitted to reaching out to Jerry Colangelo on behalf of the Sixers owners in December. But interviews with more than a dozen league sources -- including GMs, other executives and agents -- suggest that the commissioners involvement in that regime change may have been greater than he has let on.Some sources claim Phillys ownership group had grown impatient with Hinkies lack of a clear timetable to be competitive and had been worn down by constant criticism. Others suggest Silver pressured the 76ers into making a change.The league has never hidden its distaste for tanking, and sources around the NBA say Silver grew more irritated after the Sixers lost their first 18 games last fall and Okafor was involved in multiple off-court incidents. Ultimately, those sources say, it is likely that a combination of all those factors led to Jerry Colangelos hiring. (The NBA declined to comment for this story.)The 76ers are hardly the first team to build through the draft; The Process was once known as The OKC Thing. But the Sixers plan to openly exploit the lottery system by amassing high picks threatened to expose the drafts flaws and make the NBA look ridiculous.So it was, league sources say, that the glorification of The Process (by those who actually thought it would work) scared the commissioner, perhaps even more than the condemnation. Silver has made no secret of his desire to reform the lottery, a system in place for 32 years. And its doubtful that 17 owners would have voted to reduce the odds that the worst team got the top pick, as they did in 2014, had there not been sound logic behind the Sixers plan (23 votes were required to pass the measure).Says Rockets GM Daryl Morey, Hinkies former boss in Houston: The common refrain Ive heard is that [Hinkie] is taking the easy way out and taking advantage of the rules. The league chooses to give the most valuable asset in the game -- a high draft pick -- to the worst team. So if people want to be upset about how well Philly has set themselves up, they should get upset with the league office and the collective owners who wouldnt pass even the modest reforms that were put forward.Now consider this: The Lakers won 17 games this season, and their prized rookie, DAngelo Russell, secretly filmed a conversation in which he asked teammate Nick Young about being with women other than his then-fiancée, Iggy Azalea. Yet no one blamed that incident on the organizations culture the way Okafors troubles were linked to The Process.Consider too: The Kings havent finished with a .500 record since 2005-06 and just hired their sixth coach in five years. In neither case did the NBA force a regime change.By stepping in and facilitating the Jerry Colangelo move in Philadelphia, then, Silver sent a message: Gross incompetence is acceptable; strategic gaming of a flawed system is not.IT WOULD NOT have required much effort for Hinkie to dispel the notion that he didnt know basketball. In Providence, it took five minutes.As he settled into his seat, Hinkie reached into his bag. He didnt pull out a laptop with Excel files listing players effective field goal percentages or turnover rates but rather a stack of booklets, each dedicated to a different player in one of the days four NCAA tournament games and filled with scouting reports and interviews.During nearly nine hours of live hoops on this chilly Thursday in Dunkin Donuts Center, the conversation focused on basketball minutiae. From a few rows behind the scorers table, Hinkie demonstrated the way one players thumb disrupted the rotation on his shot. He noted how another cupped the ball in traffic and finished by spinning it from tough angles, an indicator that he could convert around the rim in the NBA. Bad body language, separation gained on dribble moves, the size of players hands -- these were what got Hinkie excited on that day, not actuarial tables.He talked culture and psychology -- two qualities, conventional wisdom held, that he ignored in favor of metrics. He noted that the Sixers were so heavily invested in player development that they taught players how to communicate with referees (among the lessons: Dont call them ref; address them by name), going so far as to fasten posters displaying every officials name and photo on the doors of the bathroom stalls at their practice facility. What else are you doing in there? Hinkie jokes now.In early January, the 76ers signed Elton Brand, one of the first moves Jerry Colangelo recommended after he joined the front office. A frequent criticism of Hinkies rebuilding effort was that he didnt have veterans in place to guide his young prospects, and the then-36-year-old Brand was clearly meant to counter that notion.Before Brand arrived, he had heard the chatter about what was happening in Philly. I just thought everything about the organization was low-grade and terrible, that they werent even trying, Brand says. I get there and Im blown away. The new practice facility, the training staff, the doctors they had on staff, the scientific people they brought in -- I was like, Whoa, this certainly isnt what I thought it was. This is a high-quality, top-notch organization. They had every advantage conceivable for the players. I was surprised.Others might also have been surprised if theyd been allowed to see what Brand did. But, fatally, thats not how The Process worked.Over coffee in Fishtown, Hinkie clicked on a slide that he has often referenced as a way to explain his thinking. He used it in a meeting with Sixers owners when interviewing for the GM job.It shows a series of concentric circles, each representing a move that eventually helped the Rockets acquire James Harden in 2012, back when Hinkie was Houstons executive VP of basketball operations. I learned that Yao Ming broke his navicular bone like five days before the 2009 draft, Hinkie said. From that moment on, all I thought about was going from zero stars to one star. How do you do it?We paid a record price to Sam Presti for the 31st pick to draft Carl Landry in 2007. Hes the best offensive rebounder and the best rim finisher in the league as a rookie. And then over time, he ends up in a deal for Kevin Martin. And over time, Kevin Martin ends up in a deal for James Harden. You start with a set of chips, given to you by the league. How do you make it bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, such that you can win?It took three years to land Harden in Houston, the end point in a series of deals that, at the time, had many observers scratching their heads over what, exactly, the Rockets were up to. Hinkie would resign a month before his three-year anniversary in Philly -- just prior to an offseason in which he would have held more assets and more payroll flexibility than any other team in basketball.IF HINKIE THOUGHT he could get by without addressing criticisms about him, its the same way, sources confirm, that he never anticipated his resignation letter becoming public. (Rumors continue to swirl over which member of a small group of recipients leaked the document.)The note was one of dozens he penned in his time with Philadelphia. The language was standard for an investor letter and typical of communication on Wall Street, the home turf of several Sixers owners, but also deeply idiosyncratic.It was 7,168 words of Hinkie being Hinkie: A league with 30 intense competitors requires a culture of finding new, better ways to solve repeating problems. In the short term, investing in that sort of innovation often doesnt look like much progress, if any. Abraham Lincoln said give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. To the general public, though, the memo read as something else, be that a desperate attempt to defend his record or yet another case of Hinkies viewing himself as the smartest guy in the room. In his words: You can be right for the wrong reasons. In our business, youre often lionized for it. You can be wrong for the right reasons.How history will judge Hinkie depends, ironically, not on the process he drove but on whether the ultimate outcome is a Sixers turnaround; his validation depends on the very results his process rejects as being immaterial.But in a way it is almost fitting that Hinkies final message would be misconstrued -- and that he has once again closed himself off, refusing to talk to reporters to add clarity about his departure. He did agree to a photo shoot for this story but declined to comment on his exit or his future. One might be inclined to think that Hinkie just doesnt give a damn about messaging.But back in Fishtown, Hinkie dropped a story that suggested something else. Between sips of La Colombes signature latte, as Hinkie reminisced about his time in Houston, he recalled one of his first interactions with Morey.Hinkie had actually predated Moreys arrival in Houston; he was the Rockets first analytics specialist. And when the team hired Morey in 2006, the new assistant GM spent Easter weekend logging long hours in the office with Hinkie.When the two broke for lunch on that Sunday, Hinkie and his wife deliberately took Morey to a nearby Mexican restaurant. I knew he hadnt eaten enough Mexican food to live in Texas, Hinkie says. I ordered queso so he could be introduced to it. And he loved it.Two days later, Morey and Hinkie went out to another Mexican restaurant with a larger group of Rockets staff. That was literally the reason Id done it, Hinkie says, smiling at the memory. Hed tried to prep his new boss, to keep Morey from coming across as what he actually was: an Ohioan by way of Boston.Hinkie understood the value of messaging. He knew how perception could undermine reality. It would be a shame, he thought, if Morey failed because he didnt fit in.But when they took their seats, Morey turned to Hinkie and said, Sam, lets order that KWAY-so dip we had the other day!Hinkie sighed. We were so close. Cheap Spurs Jerseys . The home side created most of the chances but struggled to break down Braunschweigs resilient defence, resulting in the Bundesligas 1,000th scoreless draw. Authentic Spurs Jerseys . Its sharpness matched my mind. This was no night to go to sleep. http://www.cheapspursjerseys.net/ . The native of Mont-Tremblant, Que., captured a World Cup downhill event Saturday, his second this year and fifth career victory on the circuit.ATLANTA -- Justin Upton was still the main man for Atlanta, even when the Braves finally had all their sluggers together. Upton gave Atlanta the lead with a sixth-inning grand slam and the Braves finally unveiled their full-strength lineup, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-5 on Friday night. Upton drove in five runs hitting behind Jason Heyward, who had two hits with a RBI and scored two runs in his first game back after having his appendix removed April 22. The homer was Uptons majors-leading 14th of the season, a high shot that appeared bound for the upper deck before landing deep in the left-field seats. "I got that one pretty good," he said. Just pretty good? "As soon as he took that swing, I knew that ball was going to be out of the ballpark," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "That was one of the prettiest swings Ive seen put on a baseball." It was the first time this season the Braves had Heyward in the lineup along with catcher Brian McCann, who missed the first 30 games while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Atlanta also had first baseman Freddie Freeman miss two weeks in April with a strained oblique. "Weve played 40 games and its the first time weve had the lineup we talked about all winter," Gonzalez said before the game. Scott Van Slyke hit two homers for the Dodgers, who led 4-2 before Uptons third career grand slam. Los Angeles had won four of its previous five games -- the teams best stretch since early April. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was disappointed by his pitching staffs seven walks and errors by third baseman Luis Cruz and left fielder Carl Crawford -- each on line drives hit by Andrelton Simmons -- that led to three unearned runs. "Too many walks. Giving too many free runners," Mattingly said. "And weve got to catch the baseball. Thats all there is to it. Youve got to catch the baseball." Paul Maholm (5-4) allowed eight hits and four runs -- two earned -- in six innings, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 12th save. Uptons grand slam made Maholm a winner. "Ill take it every time I start," said Maholm of Uptons big homer. "Ill have to make sure I compensate Justin pretty well for that." Dodgers rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu overcame a career-high five walks to give up only two runs in five innings, but relievers Matt Guerrier and Poco Rodriguez (0-2) quickly blew the 4-2 lead in the sixth. After Guerrier gave up a single to pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer, Cruz couldnt handle Simmons sharp liner, an error that left runners on first and second. Rodriguez walked Heyward to lload the bases before Uptons homer deep into the left-field seats. Womens Spurs Jerseys. Crawford missed Simmons line drive for another error during Atlantas two-run seventh. Ramiro Pena, who hit a two-out triple, scored on the error and Heyward added a run-scoring single off Ronald Belisario. Ryu failed to last at least six innings for the first time in nine starts. He gave up five hits with five walks and five strikeouts. "All day today I was just a little off-balance," Ryu said through an interpreter. "I personally feel bad that I couldnt go longer as a starter. I feel bad for my teammates that I couldnt stay out there a little longer. ... Unfortunately my balls werent going in the zone today." A.J. Ellis doubled and scored on Dee Gordons fielders choice grounder for the Dodgers in the second. Crawford and Ryu had run-scoring singles in the fourth. Ryu had strong defensive support in the fifth. Van Slyke, making his first start of the season in right field, had a sliding catch of Chris Johnsons fly ball near the foul line. Matt Kemp then made a diving grab of McCanns fly ball in the left-centre gap. Mattingly said he didnt second-guess his decision to replace Ryu, who needed 100 pitches to make it through five innings. "I feel fine with it," Mattingly said. "He was done. He was at 100 and he struggled the whole day. That wasnt a decision. It wasnt a tough one to make. At 100, hes pretty much out of gas." Slumping Braves centre fielder B.J. Upton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his batting average to .141 as he hit eighth for the first time this season. He drew scattered boos when he popped out to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in the second inning and an even louder serenade when his bases-loaded popup to Punto at second base ended the third inning. Kemp, who grounded out to end the game, was 0-for-5, ending his 14-game hitting streak, which began on April 30. NOTES: Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron attended batting practice. ... Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, watched the game from their usual seats near the Braves dugout. ... Dodgers INF Jerry Hairston Jr., on the 15-day DL with a left groin strain, was examined by a doctor in Arizona on Friday for a sore left knee. Mattingly called the problem "a little bit of a setback." ... RHP Jordan Walden was placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation to clear a spot for Heyward. ... Braves RHP Kris Medlen and Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano each will look for his second win as the series continues on Saturday night. Medlen is only 1-5 but has a 3.44 ERA. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '


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