Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Sam Hinkie's resignation as GM of the 76ers provides all the entertainment of a drama-filled breakup

With Sam Hinkie’s departure and Bryan Colangelo’s hiring, it seems that the inevitable has happened due to Jerry Colangelo and the Sixers’ ownership no longer #TrustingTheProcess. Sam Hinkie’s tenure as the overseer of the most blatant and aggressive tanking job in NBA history was exciting and frustrating and almost always divisive. On one side were the haters. Professional Hot Taker Stephen A. Smith said that Hinkie was ruining lives, Deadspin gleefully referred to the Sixers as a dumpster fire and Hinkie a moron, most local Inquirer and Daily News writers were consistently acted angry because of Hinkie and his unwillingness to put a professional product on court. On the other side were those who #TrustedTheProcess hard. One article referred to them as the “The Cult of Hinkie.” While Hinkie’s departure seemed likely, the timing of it was unexpected and the response to it has been downright bonkers.

Whenever a coach or gm is fired or resigns, it’s so often described as a breakup that the description is cliched; however, the cliche doesn’t make it not true. Like most breakups, organizational separations always have their bits of drama (Ask Philly fans about Chip Kelly and the Eagles), but this specific one has the entertainment value of a 10 episode dramedy for Netflix or Hulu. The playoffs are about to start, the Warriors are a week away from potentially making history, and yet, a 10 win team is dominating the national conversation. So now, in the day after the news came down, I will attempt to identify what role each character in this delightfully crazy situation is playing.

Sixers Ownership and The Organization are…. The Main Character

They’re an independent organization just trying to do what’s best for them but isn’t sure what that is. They loved Sam Hinkie. They really did. He sweet talked them with plans of a championship down the road and promised the best way to get them there. Sure, they could have kept dating GMs that would maybe get near the altar of the playoffs but nothing more. Hinkie promised a ring down the road. Then, three years later, the ring didn’t feel any closer and their friends were starting to pester them about how he wasn’t good for them and, heck, they aren’t even living together (Woj tweeted then deleted “Leaving the job and telling no one would be a fitting ending for Hinkie, who often frustrated staff under him with a lack of communication.”) but he swears things are just about to turnaround for the two of them. Ultimately, they’d heard that refrain one too many times and it was time to move on.

Sam Hinkie is…. The Jilted Ex

Hinkie’s 13 page resignation letter is just too perfect. It’s like he’s trying to play out the opening of Jerry Maguire but instead of appealing emotionally, he talked about Elon Musk, investments, and other buzzwords that make Silicon Valley types foam at the mouth in their venture backed frenzy. This is the basketball equivalent of sending a 5 bubble text message right after breaking up and ending it with, “you’re gonna regret leaving me.” It’s like he posted on the organization’s Facebook to A) let them know what they’re missing and B) let all the other fine organizations know he’s available. Hinkie is every character from every show and movie ever trying to get the last word in in a misguided attempt at closure. IRL, it’s sad and desperate and in this case, funny enough to outsiders who don’t see celebrities as real people.

Jerry and Bryan Colangelo are…. The Main Character’s Good Looking Friend

Introduced by a friend (Adam Silver), The Sixers swore Jerry wasn’t going to displace Hinkie. Sure, he’s got the reputation and respect of the rest of the league and is pretty much everything that Hinkie isn’t but it’s not like that, they swear. He’s just here to help out a little. Then suddenly, the Sixers were spending more time with Jerry and taking his advice over Hinkie’s. The Sixers and Hinkie spent one Trade Deadline together again to get the spark back but the Sixers couldn’t help but imagine what the tryst would have been like with the Colangelos. As these situations usually play out, Hinkie’s suspicions became true.

The Philly Media are…. The Jealous Friends

They hated what the Sixers current partner was making them do. The Philly media had known the Sixers the longest and had never seen them like this. It was Hinkie’s fault. Hinkie was taking away their beloved franchise that even when something good happened, they couldn’t help but say a snide remark. The media decided they hated Hinkie and nothing that happened could change that narrative. Once the breakup happened, they could barely contain their glee, hiding poorly maintained grins while saying, “You’ll find someone better.”

The Cult of Hinkie are… The Parents

We (yeah, I #TrustedTheProcess) just wanted our kid to be happy and we liked the new guy. Our kid had been stuck in a mediocre rut for awhile and even though it seemed like she was taking a step back with Hinkie, we could see that he ultimately wanted the best for the organization. Honestly, the Sixers had invested three years and we enjoyed that he seemed like a smart fellow. We’ve seen who the Sixers had dated in the past and it wasn’t a bunch of winners. Right now, we’re a little too disappointed in our kid to be the supportive group we usually are. Long live Hinkie.
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