As we reach a year of the Philadelphia Sports Table, listeners may have noticed by now that Jeff and I kind of have our own distinctive styles. Jeff is more of a passionate, heart-on-his-sleeve type of guy while I try to be a little more reserved. That’s done on purpose, and the reason for that is because I grew up listening to WIP. I spent a lifetime listening to “angry, overreacting guy”, so when I have a platform, I don’t want to be “angry, overreacting guy”. Unfortunately, today I’m going to be “angry, overreacting guy”.
The target of my ire today is a member of the Philadelphia media. I think the Philly media, like their counterparts in New York and Boston, tends to add an extra level of pressure to the sports figures in their respective towns. The Northeast region of the country is stereotyped as being rude, hostile, and aggressive, and sometimes the media in these markets reflects that attitude. Even when things are going according to a plan, somebody has to go in and stir the pot a little. Today, I read an article on Philly.com that drove me to blast a certain member of the Philly media.
Hiya, Marcus Hayes.
If you missed Hayes’s article from Friday, he had some criticism to levy at the general manager of the Sixers, Sam Hinkie. You see, the Sixers held their end-of-season exit interviews on Thursday and a few members of the organization, including players Michael Carter-Williams and Thad Young, head coach Brett Brown, and even owner Josh Harris, met with members of the media. The big issue that Hayes has is that Hinkie was not there to presumably answer his questions. Sorry Marcus, did you want him to offer evaluations on players that the team is possibly still making decisions on? Did you want him to tell you about Young’s future, even though Young is the Sixers’ most valuable trade chip? Do you not grasp that as general manager, Hinkie might need to hold certain cards close to the vest and not divulge any potential off-season strategy? I’m sorry, Marcus, that Hinkie couldn’t make your job easier for you.
What I’m going to do right now is take you through a few comments from Hayes’s column and offer my take (Hayes’s nonsense is in quotes):
“He destroyed every semblance of the Sixers’ core, implemented an evaluation process at least partly based on analytics, the use of which apparently requires an advanced degree in mathematics, a pocket protector and a Merlin hat.”
– Yes, that vaunted Sixers core! Including Evan Turner and his sullen attitude and his lacking basketball IQ. Notice how the Pacers started struggling almost as soon as they acquired him? That’s not all Turner’s fault, but he’s certainly played a part and I really don’t think Pacers coach Frank Vogel trusts him. Oooh, how about Spencer Hawes? While Hawes has certain attributes about his game that I like, he’s not a low post force and he was not able to be a piece that helped the Cavaliers reach the post-season, as they hoped he would. Now as far as Jrue Holiday goes, I love the guy, but find me a team that wouldn’t trade him for two lottery picks. Good luck with that.
– Oh look, if you believe in analytics, you’re a NERD!!!! You, with your fancy math-learnin’ degree and your pocket protector. Why, Marcus Hayes ought to give you a wedgie and stuff you into a locker! Nerds drool, wannabe jocks like Marcus Hayes rule. Now give him your lunch money, Hinkie.
“Certainly, Harris will endorse the job done so far by Hinkie, his handpicked Wonderboy, despite these facts.”
– Wow Marcus, not much of an agenda there, huh? You can practically hear the disdain dripping off of this comment. Did Hinkie deny you access to the team buffet? I mean, he had to have done something. Nobody is this irrationally spiteful.
“They tied the NBA record for consecutive losses.”
– Well, this is a team that EVERYBODY knew was going to be awful at the beginning of the season. Many of us thought they might be historically bad, sooooo…something like that streak might have been expected. Marcus, did you not get the memo that the Sixers were going to be bad? Wait, is that why you’re mad at Hinkie?
“And they got zero minutes of playing time from their No. 1 post player for the second year in a row.”
– Very true, Nerlens Noel did not play a minute this year. That was probably done in the spirit of caution and also the spirit of tanking. Yes, they tanked…because that is how you become relevant in the NBA when you are not a marquee free agent destination.
– Hmm, who’s the other guy Marcus is talking about here? Oh, that’s right, it was Andrew Bynum. Marcus, I have a Fun Fact for you: did you know that Andrew Bynum was not acquired by Sam Hinkie? That was the previous regime. Remember Doug Collins, Tony DiLeo, Rod Thorn and those guys? Are you sure you actually know your subject matter here?
“Are Hollis Thomas’ rookie three-point numbers a true measure of his value?”
– I will say that the highlight of the season for me was watching former Eagles’ defensive tackle Hollis Thomas transform his body so that he could become a small forward with the Sixers. What an effort! Oh wait a minute, you mean his name is Hollis Thompson and not Hollis Thomas? OH MY GOD, MARCUS HAYES! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
– This goes out to the Philadelphia Daily News: Seriously guys, I would love to write about sports for a living. I’d love to do it in Philly, covering the teams I grew up with and care about. Please, please, pretty please, can I have this man’s job?
“So, it was left to Carter-Williams to divulge that he will spend the summer working on his three-point shot, beginning it in a deeper crouch to give his stroke more energy with greater lift.”
– Well Marcus, Hinkie can’t shoot MCW’s threes for him. Do you not think that Carter-Williams understands that this is an aspect of his game that needs work? Why does Hinkie have to tell you this?
“It was left to Noel to divulge that he hoped to gain 5 to 10 pounds over the summer and play at around 235.”
– Well Marcus, it is Noel’s body, isn’t it? He watched from the bench all year, do you think that Noel didn’t notice the strength of the guys he’ll be going up against next year? Again, why does Hinkie have to tell you this?
“It was left to Brown to divulge the “intricate plan,” as he called it, for each individual Sixer; a “concierge” approach at offseason work that, under the supervision of coaches, will monitor body fat, diet, rest and recovery; each barbell lifted, every dumbbell dropped.”
– Well Marcus, that’s kind of what coaches do. They coach. They give advice to players on what they need to do to improve their game. Do you not understand how a sports organization works?
“Brown is pleasant-looking and well-spoken, at ease in front of a crowd, flattered by a camera.”
– Not like that frumpy NERD Hinkie, right Marcus?
“Perhaps the Sixers are simply protecting their Wonderboy. Hinkie cannot put his foot in his mouth if he keeps his mouth shut.”
– Seriously, it’s not just me here, people, is it? Do you not hear the condescension coming from Hayes?
Look, I’m all for hammering somebody once they establish a proven track record of poor performance at their job. You want to smash Ruben Amaro, Jr. for taking a championship caliber team built by someone else and destroying it? I get it, go right ahead. In the case of Hinkie and the Sixers, can we at least give this guy and this strategy a chance?
Look, I’ve heard plenty of rock-headed comments come out of the mouths of Philadelphia sports fans over the years. It’s the reason why Philly occasionally gets the “Negadelphia” moniker, even though it happens in every city that gets to enjoy professional or even major college sports. But shouldn’t media members, the allegedly well-educated, rational, analytical members of the media who have the platform to mold public opinion, be above this?