Photo via @brian_panebianco on IG
Words by Frozen in Carbonite
“The Process” refers to the Philadelphia 76ers’ management philosophy under former General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Sam Hinkie. In a nutshell, The Process contains three guiding principles:
A. Minimize competitiveness in order to obtain high draft picks.
B. Stockpile those draft picks in order to maximize trade values.
C. Delay “trying to win” until the team drafts a transformational, once-in-a-generation player. Based on the history of the NBA, this is mainly how teams have set themselves up to win championships.
This strategy requires a shit-ton of patience. Nevertheless, over the years “Trust the Process” has become a mantra, a philosophy, and a rallying cry for 76ers fans.
Back in the essay on the Philadelphia sports mythos, I focused on #toughness as Philadelphia sports’ guiding principle. Nothing exemplified this in 2017 more than Sabotage 5, in which Brian Panebianco and his usual suspects — plus some new additions — skated Love Park until every last slab of marble had been extracted and nothing remained but a few dirt banks into which to ollie.
On the other side of town, perhaps as a form of karmic balancing of the universe or some shit, something happened to the 76ers basketball club: They became sick-ass fun to watch.
So here we are, at a crossroad in which the Sixers are displaying flashes of basketball genius, Process believers looked ahead to a promising future, and the Sabotage crew released their final video chapter. As an homage to both #theprocess and the extensive Sabotage legacy, let’s take a deep dive into how the two crews match up.
Joel Embiid ↔ Jamal Smith
— ROACH (@poptartpete_) January 4, 2017
Embiid and Smith are the spiritual leaders, party starters, and social media giants of their respective squads. Sidelined for years with a foot injury, Embiid became the preeminent NBA Twitter user, routinely going viral via shooting his shot at Rhianna and other assorted antics. On any given night at a Sixers home game, you might catch him hyping up the crowd, dancing with the Sixers dancers, or both.
Along the same lines, Smith gained fame via the tornado spin video, and maintained it via his pre-match video for the 2016 Dime Glory Challenge and coverage via Palace. In addition, the two gentlemen share a sense of unorthodoxy — for example, what other seven-foot NBA center would take and make a catch-and-shoot three, as Embiid did in the Sixers’ Christmas day game versus the Knicks? Similarly, can you name another ledge skater who would execute a fakie tornado spin lipslide 270 out (or some shit) — to firecracker?
Ben Simmons ↔ Dylan Sourbeer
In Just a few months in the league, Simmons has drawn comparisons to Lebron, Magic Johnson, and pretty much any player who embodies the #current NBA ethos of “position-less basketball.” His basketball acumen is the engine that powers the current Sixers. Along the same lines (no pun intended), Sourbeer’s effortless yet powerful manhandling of the Muni and Love (in various states of demolition) powers Sabo 5 with not one but two parts.
Sourbeer probably has a better jump shot though ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
J.J. Reddick ↔ Joey O’Brien
By joining #theprocess, Reddick transformed his #brand from “another Duke guy you love to hate” to professional-as-fuck vet that gives credibility to the squad. Longtime Real flow-receiver O’Brien lends industry cred to the latest Sabo production, although it would be hard to top his insane ender part in Sabotage 4.
Dario “The Homie” Saric ↔ Tore Bevevino
Just as Saric injects some Euroleague flair into the Sixers’ offensive sets, Bevevino brings some Barcelonan #EuroTech to some crazy ledge work on both the Gentleman’s Ledge™ and the fountain levels, including a mindbending nollie inward heelflip revert up.
T.J. McConnell ↔ Brian Douglas
A PA Local, McConnell fought through the ranks of the D-League to earn a spot as the Sixers’ backup point guard known for his “slap the floor” (s/o Kinetic Skateshop) Bobby Hurley-esque defense. While his part in Sabotage 4 offers a more comprehensive picture of his ledge skills, the intro to his part here shows Douglas’ defensive skills against out-of-staters’ hucking down the fountain in the last days of Love Park.
Markelle Fultz ↔ Kevin Bilyeu
Each installment in the Sabotage series showcases a breakout dude. Case in point: Suciu in 3 and Joey O’Brien in 4. Sabotage 5’s number one draft pick, as Fultz was for the Sixers this year, was Kevin Bilyeu.
However, Bilyeu has proven much more durable over the ‘17-’18 season thus far, as Fultz has yet to play a game (its curious handling of injuries remains one of #theprocess’s great mysteries.) In any event, based on scouting reports and whatnot, Fultz is a prototypical modern shooting guard in the mold of James Harden. Along those lines, Bilyeu is the complete modern ledge tech skater, but filtered through the lore and fits of Philly skate history.
[Side note: based on Kalis’ near-makes in The DC Video, did Bilyeu have to obtain his blessing in order to attempt the switch tre over the can — on some mafia underboss shit?]
Sam Hinkie ↔ Brian Panebianco
The process is not blind faith; Sam Hinkie constructed it on a set of logically cogent principles. Truth be told, Sabotage mastermind Brian Panebianco shares some of these. What follows are excerpts from Hinkie’s “manifesto” — his resignation letter from the 76ers organization.
Sabotage differentiated itself from every trend of the past decade — women’s jeans, #jumpingdownstuff, wallies, no complies. It accomplished this by adhering to a core belief: the late-90s/early-00s era reigns over every other subgenre of skateboarding, and its principles should be practiced on a daily basis. Which brings my to the next Hinkian principle:
Wear supportive, protective footwear. Skate the ledges. Formulate fountain lines that haven’t been seen before. These core practices are based on decades of plaza skating — Josh Kalis. Stevie Williams. Tony Montgomery.
The Philadelphia Police Department. Snow and freezing temperatures. The destruction of City Hall and Love Park. The continual skate-stopping of the Muni benches. Constant maintenance required by Love Park’s structural deterioration.
The Sabotage crew plowed ahead without fear in spite of all these obstacles. By doing so, they planted the seeds for the next generation of Philly skaters and like-minded plaza enthusiasts worldwide.
So where does that leave both The Process and Sabotage as Philadelphia institutions? At press time, Muni continues to thrive, and coverage has already surfaced from the “new” Love Park. Indeed, based on their history, one could argue that the Sabotage crew will skate Philly until they “knob the flat” — and maybe after that. A few miles south, the Sixers reside (at press time) two spots out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. However, a few weeks ago at a game at Wells Fargo Center, Commissioner Adam Silver eluded to changes to the draft that would preemptively terminate future #process-style rebuilds.
Perhaps, like Love Park itself, The Process was too perfect to last.