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November 30, 2016

Sam Hinkie spending gap year in Silicon Valley, ‘sharpening the sword to come back’

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Sports Illustrated currently does longform basketball writing better than anyone else by a decent margin, so it should come as little surprise that Chris Ballard was the writer who wrote the definitive “Sam Hinkie in transition” story. And yep, that means Ballard got the notoriously secretive Hinkie to agree to be interviewed, photographed (rocking a beard now!), and shadowed for a few weeks.

The takeaway, as always when it comes to Hinkie: This is a different kind of dude. Some of the highlights of the article are as follows:

•    Ever wonder why Hinkie was always wearing the same thing in Philly? Like Steve Jobs with that black turtleneck and jeans, he owned 25 blue blazers to “reduce decision fatigue.”

(He’s also wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and fleece at one point in the story, if you can believe that.)

•    "Why do we watch basketball games front to back?” Hinkie asks. “Why not watch games back to front, or out of order?”

•    He listens to books on 3X speed on Audible.

•    His Fitbit watch vibrates every hour “as a cue to consider the previous hour.”

•    He now admits that, yes, he probably should have been nicer to player agents. “I could have taken David Falk out to lunch and said sorry.” And, yes, he could have communicated better. “Now, sitting where I am, maybe I should have focused on the story more,” he says.

But those are just minor details that augment the main story: Hinkie is in Silicon Valley taking what he calls “a gap year,” talking to pretty much anyone he can find outside of basketball, trying to gain as much knowledge about as many things as he can. In particular, Hinkie is very interested in artificial intelligence, as you can read in the article.

As for making a return to basketball? Hinkie initially told Ballard he was unsure, but it seems like he’s coming around on the idea once his non-compete clause from the Sixers expires at the end of the year:

“I think the world probably assumes that I’m recharging and unplugging, and there’s a little of that,” he said one evening. “This will get me in trouble if I say it, but I think I’m mostly sharpening the sword to come back.”
Anyway, just read the thing.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann