There’s more than one way to build a basketball team. Let’s call two of them the “venture capitalist” approach and the “private equity” approach. One involves the kind of careful planning and nimbleness that characterize the successful building of company after company and has led to a championship with another on the way, and maybe the best record in NBA history. The other involves tanking until you get every single draft pick and a bewildering resignation letter full of eclectic name drops, apparent or actual contradictions and “lessons” that makes you ask, “Couldn’t this guy just have scrawled ‘I quit’ on a napkin like one of the great minds who he chose not to quote?” Guess which is which.
Wins are a zerogrowth industry (how many of you regularly choose to invest in those?), and the only way up is to steal share from your competitors. You will have to do something different. You will have to be contrarian.
Sam Hinkie sure did something different, handing his competitors 195 wins since taking over the Philadelphia 76ers as GM, against just 47 losses—inflicted on other teams, that is. Extremely embarrassed other teams.
In the upcoming May draft lottery, we have what will likely be the best ever odds to get the #1overall pick (nearly 30%), a roughly 50/50 chance at a top-2 pick (the highest ever), and a roughly 50/50chance at two top-5 picks, which would be the best lottery night haul ever. That same bounce of a ping pongball (almost a flip of a coin) will determine if we have three first round picks this year (unusual) or four(unprecedented). That's this year.
Or is it? We’re not sure, because that nugget comes all the way near the bottom of page 11, a full 10 pages after Hinkie tells us he’s quitting because he’s not sure that he can “make good decisions” anymore. In between, we are treated to a philosophical tour de force. And like other philosophical tours de force, say, Heidegger’s, or Adorno’s, or Foucault’s, it can get pretty hard to follow.
To begin, let’s stand on the shoulders of Charlie Munger, a giant to me….
Where finding your way through a labyrinth of ignorance requires you to first open a door into a room of understanding, one that by its very existence has new doors to new rooms with deeper insights lurking behind them.
Check out the 10,000 Year Clock. It is no mere thought experiment, but an actual clock being designed to be placed inside a mountain in West Texas, wound, and left to tick and chime for ten thousand years. Why? Because to design something that lasts that long makes us all consider what the world will look like between now and then.
It reminds me of when we first moved to Palo Alto. Within about a week of living there a voice kept telling me, “This is great. Great weather, 30 minutes to the ocean, 3 hours to ski, a vibrant city 30 miles away, and one of the world’s best research universities within walking distance. People should really move here.” Then I looked at real estate prices. I was right, yes, but this view was decidedly not a non-consensus view. My viewpoint as a Silicon Valley real estate dilettante, which took a whole week to form, had been priced in. Shocker.
The illusion of control is an opiate, though. Nonetheless, it is annoyingly necessary to get comfortable with many grades of maybe.
Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Planck got right to it: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die.” That sounds harsh, more harsh than anything I would ever say. But think about it in your context as an equity partner in the Sixers.
Hinkie assures those partners that their context is a great one, what with their very much last place team “on solid footing now.” As for him? Well, don’t worry about him. He’s got some maxims to keep him warm.
I will be repotted professionally. That is often uncomfortable; most growth is. But it’s also often healthier over the longer sweep of history, too.
Sam Hinkie resignation letter [Scribd]