Unterberger: A Process Hall Of Fame Tribute To The Hinkie Billboard
An ode to The Billboard.
Andrew Unterberger is a famous writer who invented the nickname 'Sauce Castillo' and is now writing for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, as part of the 'If Not, Pick Will Convey As Two Second-Rounders' section of the site. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AUGetoffmygold and can also read him at Billboard.
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I’ve still never actually seen this one.
I mean, I’ve seen pictures. Looks legit. If you tell me it’s real I guess I believe you. But I’ve never actually driven down I-95, wind in my thinning hair, “Radar Love” on WYSP, and been blinded by the gorgeous visage of one Samuel Blake Hinkie, beaming down on us judgmentally like Dr. T.J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby. Could be a Photoshop. Could be a collective dream. Could be a management plant to justify them moving to Process DEFCON one. All of them seem at least possible.
Frankly, they all seem more likely than the supposed truth: That our ragtag band of RTRS misfits (and their deep reserve of silent benefactors with lots of time, money and bitterness on their hands) actually got their shit together enough to buy a fucking spite billboard. That kind of pettiness, vindictiveness and inability to let shit go is the kind of stuff you usually only read about in 19th-century short stories starring a lot of dudes with apostrophes in their name. To call it next-level in 2016 would be a dramatic understatement: hell, it’s literally several levels higher in the air.
Retweet Armageddon was undoubtedly great and all, an iconic moment of Sixers Twitter virality in which we really were like an actual virus, infecting Twitter with our recycled nuclear takes and even getting into Joel Embiid’s bloodstream. We’ll be inducting that afternoon soon enough, for sure. But at the end of the day, RTA was still just Internet tomfoolery, some cheese-eating teenager BS at heart. Try explaining the story of Retweet Armageddon to your parents and it’ll just sound like you and a half-dozen nerd friends in your basement, not looking up from your cell phones. “Millennnials,” they’ll loudly sigh.
But they gotta give it up for the goddamn Hinkie Billboard. How could they not? It’s there, physical, theoretically tangible, if practically untouchable. It took planning. It took money. It took a long attention span. The powers that be can always dismiss a hashtag, but a fifty-foot reminder of their organizational snakiness glowing in their peripheral vision on their way to work every morning is tougher to ignore. The Hinkie Billboard made it big. The Hinkie Billboard made it credit in the straight world. The Hinkie Billboard made it Broadway.
And, well, if there was one man and one occasion that deserved such widescreen nose-thumbing, it was Sam Hinkie and his unceremonial ousting on the evening of April 6, 2016. Of all the many injustices minor or major that the Sixers franchise has perpetuated over the last five years, forcing Hinkie’s resignation was undoubtedly the one that necessitated the most outsized reaction in response. This was the guy that started it all, the guy who demanded an unprecedented amount of patience because he was going to deliver unprecedented returns on it, and the guy who was one draft lottery away from finally being able to begin his triumphant second act. And if they wanted size, well, we gave it to ‘em.
The Hinkie Billboard will never be topped in RTRS lore. One, because once again, it’s hard to get much higher than a friggin’ billboard, and two, because it was the first incontrovertible piece of evidence that the Rights to Ricky Sanchez community was far more than just a gathering of faceless Sixers cultists, but a veritable NBA political party whose influence was not to be disregarded. If you actually saw it, you know what we were about, and you knew it was time to get with the movement. Whatever you say, Mr. Billboard.