Joel Embiid still sends texts to the guy who drafted him.
The SLAM story chronicles Embiid’s rise through the basketball ranks and how the Sixers GM and his most famous pick first met.
Hinkie and Embiid met at the perfect time. In mid-2014, Embiid was a full year (actually two years, unbeknownst to anyone) away from competing, while Hinkie was a young GM with questionable people skills but a legit on-paper plan: lose, draft projects, lose some more, draft some more projects, hope enough draftees hit that winning inevitably comes along. Soon the NBA and Sixers ownership would get tired of this, forcing Hinkie out in favor of current Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo, but without Hinkie and his blueprint, Embiid likely slips in the lottery and winds up on a different team, perhaps one unwilling to display the patience the Sixers happily signed up for.
(The two still text here and there. “[Hinkie] usually talks about basketball,” Embiid says. “If he sees something that I didn’t do, he’ll text me about it.”)
It’s nice that the two still stay in touch, because they’re forever tied to one another. Hinkie took Embiid third overall in the 2014 Draft. Embiid didn’t see the court for his first two years, however, and Hinkie was fired by the Sixers before The Process ever rebranded himself and made his first NBA start.
Hinkie now is fielding wild interviews with Sports Illustrated and taking meetings, waiting to make his next move. Embiid averaged more than 20 points per game in limited minutes before suffering a season-ending injury last month.
The SLAM interview is great and full of little moments that explain why so many have fallen in love with him this season. For example, Embiid says he plans to have fun with social media “until it’s taken away” from him.
“I learned I have to embrace it all,” he says. “With the fans, I’m always having fun with them on social media, and I embrace it all until everything is gone. At one point people are going to really start picking on you and start judging you by what you do on social media, so until it’s taken away from me, I’m gonna embrace it and keep having fun.”
These days, Embiid even has fun online with season-ending injuries, so it’s safe to say the tide of popular opinion is with The Process.