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June 14, 2023

Former Raptors assistant Rico Hines to join Nick Nurse's staff with Sixers

The Sixers have hired Rico Hines to join Nick Nurse's coaching staff in Philly.

The Sixers are hiring former Raptors assistant Rico Hines as an assistant coach under Nick Nurse, a source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Wednesday. Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to confirm the hiring, following a report from Marc Stein over the weekend that Hines could make his way to Philadelphia.

Hines is not as flashy of a name compared to Bobby Jackson, who agreed to join the Sixers over the weekend, but he has a variety of experiences over the last 15+ years that should make him an asset to Nurse's growing staff in Philadelphia. Coming up under Don Nelson as a player development coach for the "We Believe" era Warriors, Hines cut his teeth in Golden State before jumping to the college level in 2010, serving as an assistant under Steve Lavin at St. John's. Before making the jump back to the NBA as an assistant on the Kings and later the Raptors, Hines was an assistant coach in the G-League for Sacramento's affiliate.

If you recognize Hines' name, though, it's because he has become associated with a very specific brand of summer pickup games out in Los Angeles. With Hines overseeing the games — which bring in stars ranging from James Harden to Trae Young to Kevin Durant — the pickup sessions are so attached to him that they are known colloquially as the "Rico Hines runs." Every summer, stars from all across the basketball universe converge on UCLA's campus to duel with high-level competition during the summer months. You can get some idea of what these games look like on YouTube, where highlights of the games have been archived dating back the last four years or so.

Hines is very much in charge of these games, as evidenced by what he has to say in the brief clips where he appears in these videos. You'll have to excuse the colorful language below, but this is the demeanor Hines brings to a summer pickup game, so you can imagine the approach he would take in a legitimate NBA practice. 

"It's been a lot of m**********rs like I said the other day, that I've seen that couldn't get on for a long time. I'm talking about Hall of Famers, real good players that sat here for years and years at a time that couldn't get on," Hines said prior to one run a few years ago. "So just f-----g hold up, bear with me, even if it's the last game of the day, one of the last games of the day, one of the last games of the f-----g  day, when you get a chance to get on just work on your s**t. This is not some s**t that's some funny s**t, y'all know that. Work on your game in here. When you leave this m**********r, you got a little bit better."

"Here's how I want to play. Anytime there's a dead ball, let's go off of the elbows. Get some action, make a play. The same way you are at your practice facility, you're the same way here...respect my gym, respect the gym. You don't like a call, f**k it. It ain't gonna change, I'm not gonna change, and y'all know that. Get back, play hard, play through it. You can be mad all you want, that's fine, but keep playing. Make sense? Respect my gym, or don't come the f**k back. I'll play two-on-two or one-on-one full court. As long as we get it in the right way the way how we need to get it in, that's fine with me, I don't have a problem with that. I just want somebody to get better...if you get on the loser's court man, don't be over there on some b******t. Walking, not getting back, playing around...I seen Kobe [Bryant], Magic [Johnson], a whole lot of m**********rs fight over there just to get back [to the winner's court]."

(Just a personal note here: love a guy who lets some f-bombs fly and has the gravitas to challenge up-and-coming kids and stars alike. Hines is no wallflower, that's for sure.)

Similar to Jackson, Hines is a man whose name is most closely connected to the idea of player development, but it sounds like he will have an important, front-of-bench job for the Sixers under Nurse, so he has certainly made an impression on Nurse in the time that they've worked together in Toronto. Because of those starry games out in L.A., one could make the argument that Hines' presence means a bit more than what he offers in terms of skill development, X's and O's, and other basic coaching skills, as the connections he has made over the years could end up paying off for the Sixers in situations like free agency.

It's a bit too early to slot him into a specified role yet, but Hines figures to be an important hire for Nurse and the organization as they continue turning over the coaching staff. 

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