Yaron Weitzman’s debut book “Tanking to the Top” dives deep into the Philadelphia 76ers’ bold plan to become the best by being the worst.
The Philadelphia 76ers, led by general manager Sam Hinkie, embarked on a rebuilding project unlike the NBA had ever seen. Of course, teams tanked in the past, but no one did it quite like the Sixers.
Bleacher Report’s Yaron Weitzman makes his debut with “Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports” (pre-order). The book goes on sale on March 17.
The book provides an in-depth look at the intrepid plan by Hinkie and the Sixers to build a winner by being a loser. Weitzman joins the Knicks State of Mind Podcast to talk about why he chose the infamous Philly “Process” for his first book and much, much more.
With the recent firing of Kenny Atkinson by the Brooklyn Nets, Brett Brown’s longevity with the Sixers is even more impressive. He’s survived through four losing seasons before leading Philly back to the playoffs.
But Brown has lasted this long because as Weitzman details in “Tanking to the Top,” the team needed a steady voice amid the turmoil. Hinkie stepped down, but not before submitting a 13-page resignation letter which was later leaked to the media. Bryan Colangelo had to resign in the wake of “Burnergate.”
And through all the losing and off-the-court drama, Brown has remained. Weitzman chronicles Brown’s journey from Maine to the NBA sidelines.
Although “Tanking to the Top” focuses on the Sixers, it’s an interesting read for all NBA fans, especially those who are watching their team slog through a rebuild. Outside of a few years of making the playoffs with Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks have been rebuilding for the better part of two decades.
New Yorkers may be notoriously impatient, but perhaps the problem with the Knicks’ rebuilding plans is that they weren’t thinking big enough. The most recent plan was to clear enough cap space to sign Kevin Durant and let everything else fall into place. When the Knicks didn’t sign Durant, they had to pivot to the less desirable option of signing veterans to team-friendly deals.
Of course, the Knicks are no stranger to tanking. Just last season, New York went all-in on the tank to try and land Zion Williamson in the draft. That didn’t happen, but perhaps the problem was that the Knicks waited until the draft lottery odds changed drastically. When the Sixers were embarking on “The Process” the lottery odds heavily favored the worst team in the league.
After all, that’s how Philly wound up with two transcendent talents like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. With that said, the Sixers haven’t been able to escape the second round of the NBA Playoffs with those two leading the way.
There are certainly valid questions about the fit between Embiid and Simmons, but it’s fair to say “The Process” worked. Acquiring two superstars by way of top draft picks was part of Hinkie’s original vision. In that sense, Philly’s tanking was a success.
But this story isn’t complete yet. Winning a championship will be the ultimate validation for Hinkie and “The Process.”
Pre-order Weitzman’s gripping tale of palace intrigue and the audacious plan to build a championship team by racing to the bottom.