It’s been five years since Sam Hinkie was forced to resign as Philadelphia 76ers general manager. The league didn’t approve of his tanking method. Now the franchise is the top team in the Eastern Conference.
The nostalgia for Hinkie’s Philly tenure has always been strong with the Sixers fan base. And Joel Embiid has talked glowingly of the former executive credited for starting the fabled “Process.” The All-Star center thinks Hinkie should be invited to ceremoniously “Ring the Bell” prior to tip-off in Game 1 of their first-round playoff matchup against the Washington Wizards. Remember, current Sixers president Daryl Morey was Hinkie’s mentor in Houston.
“I think it would be a good idea,” Embiid said, via Yahoo! Sports. “He deserves it. I really believe that we would not be in this situation if it wasn’t for his efforts. Drafting me, and the following year we end up drafting Ben [Simmons]. And he’s really smart.”
Embiid trademarked the nickname “Process” for himself and truly believes the Sixers may have expedited their development if Hinkie stuck around. The NBA put pressure on the franchise to get rid of Hinkie and then replaced him with the burner-obsessed Bryan Colangelo.
Embiid added: “I really do believe that if he had the opportunity to [continue to] build the team with his vision and the way he wanted to, maybe we could’ve been in a different position. We could’ve been better by now. I know for sure we would have been a great team. Yeah, I like that idea.”
Let’s try to get @samhinkie for the bell ringing
— Daryl MorΞy 🗽🏀 (@dmorey) May 11, 2021
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Doc Rivers Met with Every Player Individually
Doc Rivers had a face-to-face chat with every single player on the Sixers roster. It’s something the championship-winning head coach has done in previous years on other teams. He revealed why he felt a need to do it about 90 minutes prior to tip-off in Game 1.
“I went to every player this week, in front of each other. I do that a lot,” Rivers told reporters. “Not every year going into the playoffs but I thought this year each guy needed to know what their value was to this team and how important they were. And how important each guys’ role was, and then obviously we have our own team little message.”
Doc Rivers says he addressed every player on the team face-to-face before the playoffs.
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) May 23, 2021
Rivers’ squad has had a week off since clinching the No. 1 seed while Washington fought every other night during the play-in tournament. Those extra minutes of live-action could help the Wizards in the series. The Sixers tried to simulate live-action during some intense practices all week.
“You can’t replace games and that was one of the concerns going into this play-in tournament,” Rivers said. “A lot of the coaches were concerned that the teams ‘playing in’ would have more basketball rhythm than the teams that were sitting around for a week. At the end of the day, I think I would take the week off but we’ll see.”
Embiid Morphed From Simba to Mufasa
Dwight Howard joined a Zoom call with reporters on Saturday singing and smiling. The 35-year-old is having fun this year and his veteran leadership has been irreplaceable. Howard averaged 7.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game this season, mostly in a backup role filling in for Embiid.
So no one was more qualified to assess Embiid’s mood. Howard called him a lion getting ready to hunt his prey heading into the playoffs. And not just any lion, Embiid is Mufasa from the “The Lion King.”
Dwight Howard on Joel Embiid entering the playoffs:
“If he was a lion, now he’s coming out like Mufasa. The Dad. He ain’t little Simba no more – he ready!!”
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) May 22, 2021
Editor’s note: I love the Mufasa comparison, but let’s not forget that Mufasa dies at the beginning of the movie and gets betrayed by his own brother. Yikes.