Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard has just published a profile of former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie. It might be my favorite sports story of the year, and you should go read it immediately, because if you had any lingering doubts about whether Sam Hinkie is really like that, this story will put those doubts to rest.
What do Hinkie and Ballard talk about? Oh, so many things.
They talk wardrobe:
He owned 25 blue blazers, all size 40 regular. The goal: reduce decision fatigue, the psychological phenomenon in which the more choices we make in any given day, the worse we are at making them.
They talk about, uh, time?
“Why do we watch basketball games front to back?” Hinkie asks. “Why not watch games back to front, or out of order?”
They talk about the value of scheduling an hourly existential crisis:
Every hour between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., his Fitbit watch vibrates. Not to remind him to exercise; as Hinkie says, “I do not feel compelled to impress it.” Rather, it’s a cue to consider the previous hour. Was he productive? Did he achieve his goals? He then spends the following 60 seconds considering the hour to come. Once properly centered, Hinkie proceeds with his day.
They talk about house hunting:
When he and Ali flew out to Palo Alto this summer to house-hunt, Sam used the Wi-Fi on the plane to rent route optimization software from a trucking company. His logic: a percentage of the 24 houses they’d targeted from afar could be eliminated just by driving by them, because sometimes you just know. So Sam designed an optimal driving route, and the next morning, before meeting with the real estate agent, he and Ali cut their list from 24 to 12 in two hours. This in turn spared a second day of house-hunting, which they used for a rare, kid-free date.
They talk about finding your place in the world:
Besides the obvious reasons—weather, culture, networking, anonymity—Hinkie came here to be among what he calls “my people,” the quants, dreamers, AI geeks and visionaries.
They talk about failure:
He pauses. “There’s not the sense of shame for failure here that there is some other places.”
They talk about class:
Sam stood out from the start. “Born on third base,” as he says, not because his family had money but because he considers intellect, not class, to be the new driver in society.
They talk about metrics:
“The single metric I wish we had,” he told them, “is the sum total of the scores of every game you’ve ever played. One-on-one, two-on-two, your little sister, your kids, five-on-five, scrimmages, preseason, playoff games.” He paused. “I don’t know what that would say, but I suspect it would be awesome. I suspect it would say that Kobe Bryant is Genghis Khan.”
They talk about sand:
As we go, Hinkie talks about Bill Belichick, whose brain fascinates him. And how much he respects Danny Ainge. And how hard it is to find good big-man coaches. At one point he stops and picks up a piece of sand. Hold it up to the sky and it obscures 10,000 galaxies. It’s a useful exercise in perspective.
Oh, for sure man.