Dear Sam Hinkie,
Yes... it's cool that the Sixers have the 2nd-best chance to land the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft exactly one month from today, but this letter that I'm writing you is about something far more important than that.
I want to thank you for winning me $30.
Back on October 9, I hopped on the Las Vegas Monorail, made my way to the lovely Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (formerly known as the Las Vegas Hilton - home of the vastly-underrated "Star Trek Experience"), and dropped 33 large (read: 33 dollars) on the Philadelphia 76ers to win more than 16.5 games this season.
Four days later, I wrote about the experience for Liberty Ballers. I'd like to think that you actually read the piece, but it was posted a mere 72 hours before you waived Tim Ohlbrecht, so I'm sure you were busy watching film or something. Anyway, here's a brief excerpt:
Did the Sixers just barely beat a Spanish team whose name sounds like the main character from "The Hobbit"? Yup. Is James Anderson - he of the six career starts in three NBA seasons - tentatively penciled in as the 76ers' starting shooting guard? Yes. Will the "will he or won't he?" distraction of Royce White's playing status follow this team all season long? Probably. But would it be the most Sixers' thing ever if these team exceeds expectations and wins 18+ games during a season in which they're clearly trying to tank? Absolutely.
My prediction on Royce White's status was about as accurate as a Tony Wroten three-pointer, but everything else was pretty much on point. We all knew what was in store for us heading into the season. It's a good thing that you're a blackjack player and not a Texas Hold 'Em guy: Your strategy was so apparent, our very own (and October's Very Own) Sean O'Connor wrote an oral pre-history of the 2013-14 season back in July that was remarkably prescient...
Spencer Hawes, Sixers center: Those first 12 games proved to everyone else what I knew all along: that I could be the alpha male on an NBA team. It was my destiny.
Adam Aron, former Sixers CEO: I was ready to reprise my role as Big Bertha's operator, that's how good they looked.
Young: We started 5-7 and people were talking playoffs. I have no idea why. And Spencer took like 25 shots a game, you think the wins were going to last? Please.
Hinkie: We knew this would fall apart, the question was when. We knew where this was going.
I will admit that the 3-0 start caught us all off-guard a bit. There was dissension in the ranks at Liberty Ballers. Derek Bodner was worried that the tank had run out of gas a mile into the journey. Justin was so distraught by Spencer Hawes's solid play that he actually called Jeff Gillooly to see if Shawn Eckhardt was still available for freelance work. I went from #TeamChill to #TeamAllOfThisWinningIsCoolButIReallyHopeWeDon'tBlowTheChanceToDraftJabariParker. Dave Rueter left the site to become the associate editor for BrewHoop. Brandon Gowton literally left the site to run Bleeding Green Nation and hired an intern to handle all of his LB responsibilities. We later hired that intern and now refer to him as "Sohil Doshi."
For a while there, it felt like the pendulum had swung too far in the opposite direction. The Sixers were so bad that fans were falling asleep at courtside. Instead of game previews, Tanner Steidel decided to write missives on 20-year-old movies. Losing games is one thing, but getting blown out by 20 to a team that failed to win consecutive games for an entire season is another matter entirely.
I could tell that your faith never wavered, however. You knew that sending Lorenzo Brown down to the Delaware 87ers 47 times was integral part of maintaining the proper chemistry in the Sixers' locker room. You knew that adding Brandon Davies to the roster would result in 60-plus losses and at least one Michael Baumann thinkpiece about missed alley-oops as spiritual experiences. This was a whale of a season, and you were our Jonah: A man wholly confident that any "transgressions" would be forgiven.
I use quotation marks around the word "transgressions" because there are those who have a problem with what has gone on these past seven months.
I don't understand why.
What did they want you to do?
Explain that this season was all about maximizing assets and laying the foundation for the future?
Some people will never be satisfied.
Conversely, I couldn't be happier. To be honest, I haven't thought much about what I'll do with the money as of yet. Given the fact that winners are required to send their betting slips back to the Las Vegas Hotel via registered mail - with delivery confirmation - it'll probably cost 30 bucks to collect the 30 bucks that I won.
Regardless, at some point over the next few weeks, there will be a check in my mailbox for $63. And when I eventually get to the bank to cash it, I think it's only fitting that I ask for them to give me all $1 bills so that I can fan them out like Virgil used to do for the Million Dollar Man.
So, once again... thank you. In the end, I can honestly say that every minute of this season was worth it. No matter what the critics may say about the 2013-14 campaign, at least we weren't as bad as the Milwaukee Bucks. The Wallenda family would be proud of the tightrope act that you pulled off this season.
I know you're not big on making public appearances, but if you're up for it, I'd love to take you out to Chipotle - my treat. You can even order a side of guacamole, if you'd like.