Sam Hinkie has been the NBA's most-discussed recluse for the last three years, but ESPN's Zach Lowe managed to draw him out of his perch for an hour-plus podcast discussing the stress of losing, his initial interview with the Sixers and more.
Hinkie was pretty open about a variety of subjects, with some (continually updated) highlights selected below:
Do you care about 9-73?
Hinkie: "For sure. I lost 20 pounds from November to January."
Lowe: "Did you really? From stress?"
Hinkie: "Yes. It's not close. This is serious for our fans, our staff, our players, you want to perform, you want to meet expectations and you want to play well. And you want to deliver and tamp down all the noise that comes with a record or a streak or those kinds of things, because they're not productive to some larger mission."
On more media interaction this year
"I think generally I've done a fair bit more media since December, it's been one of the things Jerry has suggested I do. I think he's probably right... It's one of the things he's encouraged me to do and sort of coached me on occasion about, which is to be out there more and to try to help people understand where we are, why we're here and where we're going, rather than let the vacuum sort of linger and let people fill it with whatever they'd like."
His message to franchise upon arrival three years ago:
"I think sort of the big message was... The crops have been eaten. The future ability to nourish yourself was impaired, and so you're a long way away, and how do you do that? I think the team sort of clawed their way to a .500 win season and advanced to the playoffs as an eight seed, and then realized you had to take on some risk if you were going to try to leap from eight. And so they did and they pushed a lot of their chips in, and that didn't go well for a lot of reasons."
"Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless, the most recent pipeline was gone, and [Andre Iguodala] the best player was gone. There were plenty of good players left in some sense, but as you forecast going forward it's not about what they've done, it's about what they'll do going forward."
Bynum wasn't lazy
"There was a narrative when I came in, I spent very little time with him, but there was a narrative when I came in that he didn't work hard, I think because of the bowling incident and that sort of stuff, and that was anything but true. He was grinding and grinding and grinding trying to get himself in shape, and trying to get back on the floor and on the Alter-G and on the practice court and in the weight room."
On the mediocrity treadmill
"I think there's sort of interest sometimes in being the Little Engine That Could, and outpunching your weight and doing more than people think... There's a model in which that can be fun too if that's what you desire, if that's what you want. There have been lots of teams in lots of sports that hold that up and are really proud of that."
Building a championship team
"How likely is it to be successful, any strategy? And they are all long shots. How many competitors do you have in that race?... All the paths to greatness are relatively unlikely, that's why they're fun. Think about Nova last night and their path in the tournament and how likely that was, but it's worthwhile to actually get there."
It's not easy to tank
"It's not easy emotionally, it's not easy for everyone to go through. It's not easy to struggle in the standings and struggle on the scoreboard. I think that's a big reason people don't do it, they just want the pain to stop and that becomes a primary motivator."
On instant reactions to moves
"I don't like all the tit-for-tat and who won what trade or not and all these immediate judgments, who won draft night and all these grades. We realize those are fake right? They just don't exist at all... All the knee-jerk reaction of who won or not, I think most of these things you have to see play out, and then even better if you can look at the underlying reasoning like, what's likely to play out?"
The role of luck in their strategy
"Sometimes what you hear a lot is, 'Oh you have to depend on luck.' That ain't new, that ain't new for any of us. Born in this country, born in this era, two-parent household, go to college, these are all lucky, we realize that right? They're a wild set of circumstances that lead to like, you and I having the conversation for example... That's just reality."
Looking back at drafts with hindsight
"I think this discussion is the absolute key, you should be trying to get the draft order right, not just the one or two that popped up in the game of Whack-A-Mole. You should be trying to get them all right, even the ones you couldn't have picked, didn't have the opportunity to pick, could have never picked, that doesn't matter.
What matters is your actual board and what that looked like, and so we go back a lot and talk internally a lot and create a lot of internal discussion with our staff and with our owners and the like about like, "Let's redraft that now," largely what the public thinks and what we think. And by the way, the way you redraft after one year vs. after two years vs. after four years, it keeps changing."
You can listen to the full podcast HERE.