Former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie is quite an individual, and to write that sentence is to skip past a great deal of nuance, which Chris Ballard has expertly detailed in a lengthy profile for The Crossover this week.
Hinkie, who departed from Philadelphia in April as ownership transitioned the team’s leadership to Jerry and Bryan Colangelo, has spent his time away from the NBA learning voraciously and consuming a variety of information. And as it turns out, the man responsible for “The Process” that once guided the Sixers’ rebuild has become extremely efficient in doing that.
The problem with narratives is that they contain heroes and villains and protagonists and character arcs and redemption and vindication, all of which can overshadow or obscure fact and truth and reality. They derive, as Hinkie puts it, from “the lizard parts of our brains.” Which means they’re simplistic and, for a man who believes there are roughly 2,000 shades of gray, this is troubling.
The other problem with narratives is that, whether you like it or not, they are really, really powerful. An oft-cited study found that if you embed details in a story, it’s up to 22 times more likely to stick. Remember Cecil the Lion? Sure you do, because some dentist went and shot a beloved animal and suddenly we all cared about lion preservation. But if an organization had just put out the information—African lions are being killed at a distressing rate—it may never have pierced your awareness.
Hinkie is aware of this phenomenon. “I’m superkeen on that topic,” he says, which is not surprising. Hinkie is superkeen on a lot of topics. This is a man who listens to books on 3X speed on Audible and curates his Pocket account the way some men once curated album collections, because if you really want to understand something there’s no better way than to spend six hours reading a book someone spent five years researching (density of information!). He espouses a growth mind-set and the ability to be a lifelong learner. (For this reason he’s a big fan of Steve Kerr.)
Read the full story, “Sam Hinkie 2.0: After The Process” here.