As I said a few weeks ago in my review of Ethan Sherwood Strauss’ superb The Victory Machine: thank the living Lord for sports books written by people my age. What a balm. No Michael Jordan narratives. No “back in my day, them fellas didn’t have the interwebs.” It’s simply inconceivable to boomers that people my age remember a world before its wide web, a time before social media, and can in fact conceive of a history that predated our existence.
Anyway, enough of that. There’s a dearth of quality basketball books and while this isn’t on the level of Strauss’, Yaron Weitzman’s work here is among the better ones I’ve read. Rather than being a simple game-by-game recounting, Weitzman goes deep into “The Process”, the weird, wild rebuild of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise, started by Sam Hinkie and completed, on some level, by the players he drafted, with several small rebuilds and transitions along the way.
Weitzman takes a broad view here. He’s not judging The Process one way or another. Rather, he does the best he can to recount everything that went into those wild seasons. He presents Hinkie’s experiment in asset acquisition as both visionary and frustrating. Along the way, he examines a cast of characters from players to super fans to the few front office people who would go on record.
If I have a quip here and it’s a minor one: Weitzman, by his own admission, fails to fully penetrate the 76ers front office, which apparently in the Hinkie era was steeped in Kremlinology. As a result, you get the presentation of a veteran reporter who gets as close as he can, even if it’s not as insightful as one would like.
But again, that’s a quibble. This is likely as good of a look as we’ll get on one of the strangest sports stories in recent memory. This absolutely gets shelved as a legit quality basketball book.