You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Sam Hinkie’s 13-page resignation letter explains why he was able to hang on to his job for so long.

And why he wasn’t very good at it. 

Hinkie resigned as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, after three, uh, tumultuous years on the job. Hinkie was famous for his vaunted “process” for rebuilding the team using the draft while eschewing free agency. Over his tenure, the 76ers were 47-195 and, more remarkably, never won more than 20 games in a season. They were astonishingly terrible. 

But Hinkie was also an inevitable result of the trend in the NBA towards analytics. He talked like a venture capitalist and believed that he could revolutionize the league with science and sleep monitoring and treating the Philadelphia 76ers like they were a startup and not an NBA team. The fans did not like this, because fans do not like it when their team wins less than 50 games in three seasons. The other NBA owners didn’t like it because they do not like a team that would run in the middle of the pack in Spain. 

But Philadelphia’s owners liked it—reports suggest they had hoped Hinkie would stick around in an executive role—because Hinkie sounded like them. Hinkie’s 13-page (!) resignation letter is full of VC bullshit like this, where he discusses the ebbs and flows of the “market” and “ecosystem”:

  • New Zealand’s flightless bird the moa (measuring in at 10 ft, 400 lbs.) had the life tramping around the South Island for a great long run; then the first Māori explorers washed ashore in canoes, and that was that.
  • I still miss Blackberry’s keyboard, but the 2007 iPhone debut rendered it nearly obsolete to all but a few of us curmudgeons.
  • Watch what’s happening with the collaboration between IBM’s Watson and M.D. Anderson or Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo. It won’t be just an ancient board game that’s disrupted. It’s also anything but a game to Lee Sedol.

Hahaha, OK! This is not how you build a winning team—the Warriors are currently mistaking correlation for causation—but this is how you get rich people to like you and think you’re smart.