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Sam Hinkie's Sixers plan, Phillies' PR gaffe, Olympics insights and more!

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Now that Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has cleared his basketball deck, fans are brimming with promise.

But before you begin planning the parade down Broad Street, it is important to understand this is a process.  

A decidedly painstaking, arduous process, and there are no guarantees it will work.  

So while many fantasize about the ways in which LeBron James leaves South Beach for the Philly grind, the Oklahoma City Thunder model is the more logical scenario.  Photo: hoop76.com

Still, this is risky because despite the media hype machine, there isn’t a player eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft ready to average 20 points per game as a rookie or 25 ppg in year two like Kevin Durant did. Why do I say that?  Because Durant dominated college basketball the lone year he competed at that level.  

Is there a player in college right now performing as well as Durant did?

Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Marcus Smart and several others have a chance to be good pros, but in fairness to them, none are showing anything near what Durant showed at Texas.  

Add to that the fact the Thunder lost 121 games in Durant’s first two seasons and you understand Hinkie is going to have do more than cut dead weight and gather picks. He must dominate the draft.  And even if he finds a future Hall of Fame player, the Sixers are at least two or three years away from legitimately vying for a title.

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Phillies' GM Ruben Amaro must truly believe he had a large part in building the 2008 championship. It is the only explanation for the way he conducts business.  

The fact he would work with the NCAA to expose players after contract talks didn’t go his way tells me his lack of self-awareness governs his decision making.  

If you were an athletic director or baseball coach of a college or university, would you trust any Phillies scouts or representatives?

 

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Every four years, the winter Olympics remind us how glorious the sport of hockey is when its athletes are allowed to skate and create.  

No goons, no two-hand slashes to the back of a player’s legs. No forty-foot runs with the intent to drive someone head-first into the boards.  And most importantly, no time-consuming, energy-sapping fisticuffs.  

Of course most fans of the sport—particularly here in Philly—yearn for chaos. It is a blood thirst rivaling any from the Roman Empire. They attend games with the hope of seeing two grown men pummel each other with bare knuckles. Utter nonsense.  

As for the argument each team needs a brute to prevent bullying of skilled players like Claude Giroux, a simple change to a combination of Olympic and current playoff rules will eliminate all goons through attrition. If you doubt that, do some research on professional basketball in the 1970’s.

It is such an easy and intelligent way to bring more fans to the sport that it’s absurd it hasn’t already happened. Then again, there isn’t much about Commissioner Gary Bettman or the hockey community that says they want more fans.  

The sport oozes elitism and exclusivity.  

Speaking of Olympic hockey, Team USA’s women were every bit as entertaining as the men.  They deserve praise for performing at a high level throughout their tournament.  Photo: Mcwade.com

They also deserve truthful analysis by the media. That’s why I have no qualms saying the gold medal game was too big for forward Kelli Stack. She looked tentative and tight against the Canadians but head coach Katey Stone never adjusted.  She just kept running her out there.  

And at the moment of truth, they gave away a two-goal lead and the Olympic championship.  

Perhaps it’s because of our collective disregard for women’s sports, but that was one of the historic meltdowns of all time.  We owe it to them to say so.  

As for the men, despite mailing it in against Finland in the bronze medal game, team USA also performed at an extremely high level. Still, head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t do much to help matters. Forward Patrick Kane played too much while Blake Wheeler played too little. And against the better competition, the Americans didn’t do nearly enough to get their defensemen involved in the offense.

The most important skill for any head coach in any sport is the ability to understand the mindset of his or her players in every game.  

Unfortunately for the USA, Stack and Kane weren’t themselves when their teams needed them most and their coaches ignored or dismissed it.  

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Football fans rarely admit this because it isn’t sexy, but the fact is a football team’s talent evaluator is the 2nd most important person in any organization.  He is right behind the quarterback and just ahead of the head coach.  

With that in mind, it behooves the 49ers to compile a list competent replacements for head coach Jim Harbaugh because quite simply, general manager Trent Baalke is more valuable.  

Harbaugh can’t expect people to kiss a ring he doesn’t have.  

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Sam Hinkie photo: hoop76.com 

Olympicsphoto: mcwade.com