Two facts about me:
I love Beef Burnt Ends
Sam Hinkie has fundamentally transformed the way I think
Only the latter will be relevant to the rest of this piece. If you want me to do an article on Beef Burnt Ends, let me know.
He’s “The Process” Guy, Right?
The Skinny on Hinkie
Samuel Blake Hinkie (born December 1977) is an American sports executive who served as the general manager of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) Philadelphia 76ers from 2013 to 2016. He has also consulted for several National Football League (NFL) teams.
After working at Bain & Company and graduating from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Hinkie obtained a position with the NBA's Houston Rockets in 2005. Working under General Manager Daryl Morey, Hinkie promoted the use of advanced statistics.
After joining the Sixers in 2013, Hinkie traded away several veterans, leading to accusations that the Sixers were "tanking" to obtain high picks in the NBA draft. Despite this criticism, Hinkie also attracted a devoted following among fans who adopted the mantra "trust the process," which denoted faith in the Sixers' long-term hopes to compete for a championship. As general manager, Hinkie drafted players such as Joel Embiid and Dario Šarić, and signed Robert Covington to a long-term contract.
After the Sixers started the 2015-2016 season with a 1-21 record, the franchise hired Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations. Hinkie left the franchise later that season and was replaced as general manager by Bryan Colangelo.
The Process in Theory
The Process was about 1 thing. Longer timelines.
The 76ers were terrible when he took over. Yet even in this case, most GMs and Head Coaches still would say things like:
“We are going to be competitive right away.”
“We can make the playoffs this year.”
And some even say…
This team can compete for an NBA championship as is. We just have to do things the “right way” and “change the culture.”
Sam isn’t an idiot. So Sam didn’t say any of those things. You’ll inherit situations where you can’t be competitive right away. And that’s okay.
Instead, he opted to take a page out of Cody Royle’s book and dare to go where others wouldn’t.
He thought on a longer timeline and recognized this…
Nobody is trying to win the 2022 NBA Championship in the year 2013.
There is no competition in this “game.”
So he decided to play in that “game.”
He was playing what Simon Sinek and James P. Carse call the infinite game.
Sam knew he wasn’t going to be the GM when the team saw the fruits of his labor bloom. He wasn’t doing things to “keep his job.” In fact, he was doing a lot of things that pissed nearly every 76ers fan off.
The 76ers were around before he got there and will be around long after he tendered his resignation in 2016, but everything he did was in the best interest of leaving the 76ers in a better place than he found them in.
My Theoretical Application of the Process in Junior Hockey
In a few junior leagues in North America, there is no limit on the number of 20-year-olds a team can have. In theory, you could have an entire team of players who are in their last year of eligibility.
You could have an entire team of 17-year-olds too if you wanted.
With the right owner, GM, and head coach you could keep most of your team together in those leagues for 4 years. Before you say anything, yes some of them will develop and advance to tier 1 junior hockey… I get that… Stay with me.
But what if you could keep 80% or more of those players together for 3 or 4 years?
If you could get an owner on board with going 2-54 in the first year of the experiment without firing the coach, trading all the players, etc… You could play a long-term developmental game and a long-term “winning” game.
You might not even need to go 2-54.
Nobody in junior hockey is trying to win a championship 3 or 4 years in the future. Just like no team in the NBA was trying to do what Sam Hinkie was trying to do. If everyone’s trying to win now, play a different game.
It sounds utopian, but this can exist. And hire me if you’re on board because I want to be a part of it.
Play a different game on a different timeline than everyone else, you just might find yourself without any current competition.
This is the last time I’m going to promote anything before the holidays. Consider buying an ebook or course. It would help me out in my pursuit of continuing to add value to this community.