Tanking to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Most Audacious Process in the History of Professional Sports

Grand Central. Mar. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781538749722. $28. SPORTS
Tanking, wherein a bad professional sports team seeks to improve by first getting worse, is nothing new, but its poster children are the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers of 2013–16. Coming off a 2012–13 season of 34 victories in 82 games, the Sixers hired a relatively unknown general manager, Sam Hinkie, who proceeded to jettison the team’s better players in order to save money to obtain second-tier personnel to stockpile as trade bait and to dangle in front of future top free agents, while also ensuring miserable records that would translate to high draft choices. Known as “The Process,” this resulted in seasons of 19, 18, and ten wins but, buoyed by top draft choices Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers climbed to 52 wins in 2017–18. In 2019, after 51 regular season victories, the team came close to earning a spot in the NBA playoffs. Here, veteran sports journalist Weitzman, NBA writer for the website Bleacher Report, offers an account, replete with insider information, of the ups and downs of “The Process” and its architect.
VERDICT Readers interested in the business of basketball, and how it affects teams and players above all, will find this a must-read.

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