February 15, 2018

#116 Trust the Process

by Reply All

Background show artwork for Reply All

This week, we meet a dominatrix who dominates computers, instead of just people. Plus, the story of a man who hatches a plot to destroy a beloved NBA team, using the best advantage he has — the fact that he’s their general manager.

Further Reading:
Mistress Harley's Website (very NSFW)
The Yes Yes Nos tumblr
The tweet in question
The Code Switch blog
The Code Switch podcast
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PJ VOGT: From Gimlet, this is Reply All, I’m PJ Vogt.

ALEX GOLDMAN: And I’m Alex Goldman. 

PJ: So Alex.

ALEX: Yes.

PJ: You’ve been mostly out sick this week. 

ALEX: Yeah, yes I have.

PJ: Well, so, we did something that was a little bit unusual, which is normally, when somebody makes a mistake in one of their stories and there’s a correction, it’s the reporter’s job to handle it obviously.

ALEX: Yes.

PJ: But you’ve been out and there was sort of an error in episode 115, The Bitcoin Hunter, where you tried to help somebody find their lost bitcoin. There was a mistake in that episode that we’ve been fixing without you. 

ALEX: What! 

PJ: What? 

ALEX: Well, first of all, I feel like I’m in the principal’s office. I feel (laughing) I feel like I’m in trouble.

PJ: Like you’re about to get punished somehow.

ALEX: And second of all, what was the mistake? 

PJ: So, I’m just going to play you the part of your episode that has the mistake in it right now.


PJ: You had found this bitcoin hunter and you were just explaining how the guy was going to help you.

ALEX: So the bitcoin hunter I found, his name is Jeremy Rubin.  Jeremy lives in San Francisco, but I had him remote into my computer so we could take a look at Jia’s hard drive together and try and find the lost bitcoin.  

PJ: It’s cool that you finally found someone, anoth- a new person to remote into your computer

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: I feel like you’re like a “remote into my computer” fetishist.

ALEX: (laughs)

PJ: And every story we do is just like an excuse to give like, “Oo, remote access!”


PJ: So, the premise of that joke was that, that thing doesn’t actually exist, there’s no such thing as a remote into my computer fetishist.

ALEX: I like where this is going. Also, so far, this doesn’t feel like a mistake I made.

PJ: Both things are true. So it turns out there are such things as remote into my computer fetishists.

ALEX: What? 

PJ: Sruthi spoke to a dominatrix named Mistress Harley, and I’m just going to play that for you. 

ALEX: Oh my god. I’m so overwhelmed. 

PJ: So I think all you need to know is that Mistress Harley says that the first time she encountered this fetish was a few years ago and she had just been like going about her normal life as an online dominatrix. 

HARLEY: I was doing kind of your typical pro domme sessions which look like Skype sessions you know, where you're dominating someone via cam. Um, and people started to ask me if I could dominate their computers. 

SRUTHI: Are the- is that the words they use, like dominate my computer?

HARLEY: Yeah. Dominate my computer, take over my computer, lock down my computer, install parental controls on my computer. These were the kind of requests I was starting to get. To take remote control of people’s devices in order to dominate them in a BDSM context.

SRUTHI: So when you first started doing this and the first time somebody asked you to like, “OK like dominate my computer.” Like what did you think?

HARLEY: Oh I thought it was the most boring thing in the world. Like, so my background is computers and IT, I worked in the game industry for many years and I have a Masters in Library Science and Information Technology—

SRUTHI: Library science? Wow. OK.

HARLEY: Yes, yes. So, having come from a technical background, to me it felt like being an I.T. person again where it's like oh this system thinks that my parental control software is malware. Now I have to disable your antivirus. Now I—

SRUTHI: You're actually like you have to do a bunch of tech support things? Just to like—

HARLEY: Absolutely. So the actual act of taking over a computer I think is really boring. But then once you have someone under your control, like for me that's when the fun part begins. I have made people like install Nest cameras in their house so I can watch them 24/7. Uh, I’ve put a keyloggers on their computers so I can get all of their passwords and logins for every website—

SRUTHI: Uh huh.

HARLEY:  —they go to, I get banking information. I get their email I get all their contacts. You know I'll transfer files to myself and I'll tell them that, “Hey, oh I found your tax return. I'm just going to take that. Oh here's your resume, I'll just take a copy of that as well. And then the more fear that they have. I call this like the fear boner, the bigger the fear boner is, like then the more exciting all of this is. And now that they're thinking about like, “Oh my God, Mistress Harley knows where I work, and she's got my mom's phone number, and if I don't do what she says, then things are going to get really really bad.” And um, it kind of puts them into that state where they're super obedient and super submissive.

SRUTHI: I guess I'm wondering like what kind of person will be into this and why. Like is it a really powerful person or even like tech savvy person? Like what, what person is like, “I want my computer to be taken over”?

HARLEY: I do think tech savvy people find it intriguing, but ultimately I really think it's people who crave this real life domination, but from a distance. So a lot of my uh submissives, they've never even spoken to me on the phone like you're speaking to right now. They've never met in person. At best they've seen pictures and videos of me.

Um, but what they really want, you know, they don't want to have like a phone sex dominatrix relationship, where they call and I'm like, "Yeah I'm going to make you do stuff," and then you hang up the phone and now your fantasy is over.


HARLEY: This is literally the translation of your fantasy into reality, because now I can see your Facebook, I can see your LinkedIn, I can see your email. There are no secrets, and it’s a really really intimate experience without ever having to shake my hand. 

SRUTHI: Uh huh. And like what does your day look like? 

HARLEY: I wake up whenever I wake up, so usually between 10:00 a.m. to noon. I check my emails.Usually sitting in my emails when I wake up is two to three hundred dollars that people have owed me. You know, they know they owe me this money, and so they pay me. And so when I wake up, there's this money sitting there waiting for me. And so I think, “Ok, that's nice.” And then I make a cup of tea and I have- my husband is a homemaker. So he makes me all my meals and stuff, so he makes me breakfast and then— 

SRUTHI: I mean can I just say: Of course he makes you breakfast.

HARLEY: Of course he makes me breakfast.

SRUTHI: Okay, alright.

HARLEY: Um, so, after I’ve checked my emails, I turn on my phone lines, and so my submissives can call me. And it's a minimum of five dollars a minute to speak to me on the phone. Although depending on where you live, like I have a lot of slaves in Germany and they—

SRUTHI: Oh come on now. That is amazing. In Germany?!

HARLEY: Oh I have slaves everywhere. I have slaves in Kuwait, I have slaves in Germany, I've got slaves all over America and the UK. Oh my god, guys in the Middle East and places that are sexually repressed, they love me. And they love computer takeover, because it's like this real way they can interact with a dominatrix.

SRUTHI: Uh huh.

HARLEY: So let's say Mohammad, living in Kuwait, he finds my website, and he sends me an email and says, “Mistress Harley, I love the idea of being controlled by a strong powerful woman. Can I book a computer session with you?” And then I would say, “Yes. Booking a computer session is 100 dollars. Go to my website MistressHarley.com. Pay me, and then we will set up a time for the session, if it's not immediate.”

And then he would give me... whatever remote desktop sharing software he's using, he would give me the login information for that. We would discuss limits. You know, if he says, “Look you can do anything you want, but do not email my wife.” Like, ok. Great. 

SRUTHI: Got it. 

HARLEY: Now I know. I won't email your wife. And then once we start, it's like any BDSM play session where now we've negotiated. So now I'm not going to be polite anymore. And now I'm to do whatever I want, within the realms of what we discussed. The guy I’m thinking of in particular who I'm thinking of, who is Mohammed from Kuwait, uh, he likes to be exposed. And so when I go on his computer, I open up his camera on his computer and start taking pictures and videos of him. And then, I start posting those pictures and videos to my Twitter where I have like 50,000 followers. Or I might post them on my Loser Hall of Shame on my website. And then, you know, now his computer is locked down, and he is exposed. And this is all very exciting to him.

SRUTHI: So when you say he's excited, like how is he showing it?

HARLEY: Oh I mean, usually there's a little text chat in the corner, where he's like “Oh my god! What are you doing?” And me like, “Oh well I'm- You didn't say I couldn't go on your Facebook. And so now I'm in your Facebook, and now I see all your friends, and now I see where you work.” And “Oh my god this is so- this is so- you're so powerful. You’re- this is so exciting.” They'll say to me. And I'm like, “Yeah, of course I'm very powerful. I own all your shit now.”

You know it's just like ransomware, except the ransomware is consensual, because people ask for it.

SRUTHI: And it's legal? Right?

HARLEY: Well there is nothing illegal about inviting someone to install software on your computer, and them doing that. I liken it to, like, if I broke into your house and stole your television, that's a crime. But if you open the door, and you tell me to come take your TV, there is no crime. (laughs)

SRUTHI: Mmhm. Yeah. And I'm just curious if there's cases like, where you feel sorry for the person, or something happens that makes you feel like, “Oh this is like not good or healthy in this particular situation.”

HARLEY: Well I’ve always said if I ever see child porn or something on someone’s computer I would immediately inform the police. There are definitely those cases where I think people are unstable. I feel the most sorry for people with obvious gender dysmorphia who do not have the kind of therapeutic help that they might need in order to determine that. One of the common requests with computer control is for feminization. If I take over your computer, I can force you to feminize yourself to be more like a girl instead of a boy. 


HARLEY: But then, of course, like these things do have real life consequences. And I've definitely had some submissives, like, kind of get all the way up to a point where they were starting to talk about fully transitioning into being a woman, and then um they really freak out. And you know get really upset, and start talking about you know hurting themselves, or you know just not knowing what to do. And I always, at that point, I always tell them, "Look I am a dominatrix. I'm not a mental health professional. You know you need to talk to a therapist about these feelings." And I have, I've sent a lot of clients to therapy So these relationships, especially the long term ones, they do turn into real relationships. 

SRUTHI: And like, what do you get out of it?

HARLEY: I mean, besides like, being paid twice as much as I got paid to go to an office?


HARLEY: Um, you know, I live a completely autonomous and independent life. I sleep when I want, I don't have a boss, I make men support my lifestyle, And now, I have all these slave machines that have to pay me all the time.

SRUTHI: You have a good life, Harley.

HARLEY: You know, I really do. I don't hate to brag, uh, obviously. (laughs)


PJ: Mistress Harley. According to Twitter bio she is a model, producer, CEO, dominatrix, financial domme, tech domme, author, sexpert, and bad bitch. 

After the break, a man hatches a plot to destroy a beloved NBA team …using the best advantage he has… he’s their manager. 


PJ: Welcome back to the show. Uh, we are now joined by our boss, Alex Blumberg. 


PJ: So we, we used to have a segment on the show called Yes Yes No...

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs) What do you mean?

PJ: People liked it, it worked. It was—

ALEX BLUMBERG: What do you mean, “used to”?

PJ: We used to before someone destroyed it, before, before the doddering old man who is confused by the internet decided that instead this is a sports talk radio podcast.


PJ: And that rather than Yes Yes No, we were going to do something called Sports Sports Sports. Where you come to us with sports tweets that you don't think we'll understand, and then bully us about it. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs) Bully? No, alright I think- what what actually is going on here is that I have a tweet that I think is um one of the most delightful sports internet related stories to come along in a long time, and um, and I’m very excited to share it with you. 

PJ: Okay, so the tweet is—it's a person named Joel Embiid. Or Embiid? Is that right?


PJ: Joel Embiid. And he's tweeted, "Trust the process. #hediedforoursins." And then he's embedded another tweet. But the first thing I have to say is just, this tweet has 9,200 retweets. Um. 


ALEX GOLDMAN: Joel also has 1.2 million followers.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Do you, wait, can I just stop you, before we go further. Do either of you know who Joel Embiid is?

PJ: No


PJ: No.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Okay. Alright, good.

PJ: Famous sports commentator? Or actor? Sports actor?

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs) No this is just- this is already better than I thought it was going to be. Let's continue.

ALEX GOLDMAN: And I should note that the header of Joel Embiid's Twitter feed just says "The Process."


PJ: Weird. Ok. And then the embedded tweet is by a guy named Sam Hinkie. And he's saying "I love it when a plan comes together." And then he's referencing an article about Sports Illustrated, which says "Why does Sports Illustrated predict the Astros will win the 2017 world series in 2014." And that tweet has 7149 retweets. 


PJ: What is this?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Alright, Alex Goldman, do you, do you understand this tweet?

ALEX GOLDMAN: No, I am zero percent comprehending this.

ALEX BLUMBERG: PJ Vogt, do you understand this tweet? 

PJ: I do not.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Alex Blumberg, do you understand this tweet?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yes! I understand this tweet! 

ALL: (laugh)

ALEX BLUMBERG: We're at reverse Yes Yes No, everyone!

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: I guess we're at No No Yes.

PJ: We're at No No Yes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: I have a beautiful tale to unfold for you.

PJ: Okay.

ALEX BLUMBERG: To really do it justice, though, I'm going to bring on a guest into the hallowed inner sanctum of the Yes Yes No.


PJ: Alright, who's the guest?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Um, the guest is a guy named Gene Demby, who is at NPR, he runs the Code Switch blog and hosts the Code Switch podcast. And I want him to be here because he has relevant expertise.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Is he part of "the process"?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Is he part of "the process"? Um. We're all part of the process, as you'll find out. (laughs)

ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs)


GENE: Hello?


ALEX BLUMBERG: Gene! How are you? 

GENE: I'm good, thanks for having me on.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Good. I brought you on because I can explain this tweet, but I don't feel the tweet in my bones the way you, you, you might.

GENE: (laughs) Oh man, it's been a long emotional journey. Uh, uh, how much do you guys know about like the way the NBA works?

PJ: (laughs)

GENE: Like are we starting at zero? Like what are we doing.

ALEX GOLDMAN: I know that, I know that if you stand behind a line, you can get a three point shot, but within that line it's two points.

GENE: That's correct, so it's not zero.

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs) Better than I thought.

GENE: You don't know zero.

ALEX GOLDMAN: (laughs)

GENE: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: So I think, to begin to understand this, I feel like we have to go back back a ways. 

GENE: Yes, okay.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And I think we might have to all the way back to 1983.

PJ: The story of this tweet starts in 1983?

GENE: I mean, it probably starts even further back than that if you really wanna...

ALEX GOLDMAN: Oh my god.

ALEX BLUMBERG: But I think for our purposes we're going to start in 1983. So in 1983, that was the last year that the Philadelphia 76ers won the championship in the NBA.

GENE: Yes. Ugh. I was two years old, so I don't even remember it happening. But it was a big deal. I'm from south Philly, I grew up a couple miles away from where the Sixers used to play back then, so my family is like full of die hard Sixers fans. The Sixers are like this storied team, right? At least, you know, they were. There was a little stretch, in the early aughts, in which they were very good, thanks to Allen Iverson, but for the most part they've been like, you know, kinda trash. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: And so as a fan, after the Iverson years. In those like, sort of like that wasteland era of the Sixers. Like what was that like to be a fan around that time?

GENE: Ugh. So the thing you have to understand about, and this is like, this will make the rest of this make sense is that, the kinda worst place to be, in a lot of ways as an NBA team is mediocre. Not not bad, but mediocre. Because you're, you might be good enough to make the playoffs, and then you win the right to get your ass kicked by some really good team in the playoffs. 


GENE: But you're not so bad that you get a really high draft pick to pick a really good player. So the way it works is it's literally a lottery. If your record is really good they throw a bunch of, you have more balls in the lottery, uh to win the number one pick in the draft. And so—

ALEX BLUMBERG: And that can be game changing, that can be huge. So like Cleveland was like a horrible, horrible team, they had the number one pick, they picked Lebron James, and they became a finals contender.

PJ: So this relates to something that I understand, which is like, if you guys ever play Mario Kart? Like they— 

ALL: (laugh)

PJ: —As your driving you get like random items that you can attack the other racers with, and first place gets like banana peels, and last place gets the purple shell.

ALEX GOLDMAN: The heat seek, the heat-seeking shell. Right.

PJ: Right, so it's almost better to be in like 8th place than 5th place.

GENE: —to make up the difference. Absolutely, and so the Sixers, after the Iverson era, were basically in 5th place. They were basically, they had neither the banana peel, or the heat seeking red shell, right? So um, in the early teens, they hire this guy, named Sam Hinkie, he was an, like assistant GM manager for like the Houston Rockets, and he's this weird kind of socially maladept dude, who thinks of himself of a numbers guy. And he's basically like, "We're going to strip this team for parts."

ALEX BLUMBERG: Have you guys ever seen Moneyball?

PJ: Yeah.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Uh, I read it.

ALEX BLUMBERG: So the Moneyball, like the whole thing where baseball got the advanced stats and all these quants and geeks started coming into- into baseball and sort of looking at people and realizing that the way they had been choosing players is wrong and there's different ways of building teams, that same thing was happening in basketball around the time, and Sam Hinkie was one of these guys. 

GENE: Right exactly.


GENE: And his idea is, basically, what if we make the Sixers as bad as conceivably possible?

ALEX G and PJ: (laugh)

GENE: Right, like what if we get all of the red shells, as it were, right? For several years. And it wasn't- and he's a really bad communicator, he famously, during this tenure with the sixers did not have a lot of press conferences. So he sort of spoke in this weird, um anodyne sort of like sterile business speak. And he would talk about, you know it's a process, and you have to trust it. He never actually said, "Trust the Process." It sort of became a thing that became associated with him. But he would say this, um and he basically made it so the team had only like 2 or 3 passable NBA players on the Sixers roster for a while.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And he would do these things where he would trade away like pretty good players, who had like good careers, and he would trade them for like—

GENE: And he’d be trading them for nothing.  


GENE: But Hinkie went further than that, he wasn't even trading away good players. Any player who did anything functional on a basketball court, like anything—

ALL: (laugh)

GENE: If someone did something that possibly inhibited the chance that you would lose a basketball game, like possibly made it possible, like marginally more likely that you would win a basketball game... Basically interrupting the process that we were all supposed to be trusting. Um, and—

ALEX BLUMBERG: (laughs) What was that like for you? Being a fan?

GENE: I come from a basketball family, so sometimes I go up to Philly, and my mom and I would go to a game, right? And we went to this game, and they were playing the Phoenix Suns, and it was sort of like in the beginning part of the process, as it were. And the arena must have been like, probably like a third full but it did not feel that full. Um, you could hear the players talking. We were like twenty rows up, but you could hear them from the —

PJ: Wait from, like talking from the court?

GENE: Yeah, you could just hear them like talking to each other. It felt empty. Uh, and there was like 3 or 4 minutes of like reasonably competitive basketball, like 7-7 or something like that. And then it just turned into this—it's not even like ass kickings are, that are fun to watch. They just like—like a slow attrition, like I mean like—

PJ: (laughs)

GENE:  It wasn't like they were getting, the other team was playing so well they were destroying them, the other team was just playing at half speed and the lead was getting bigger and bigger and bigger. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: It sounds so depressing to be a member of that team. It's like you're on the Bad News Bears, but you don't ban together and succeed, you just kind of are deliberately bad.

GENE: If you were to ban together and try to succeed, the front office would actively, they would try to get rid of you.

ALL: (laugh)

GENE: There will be no banding together on this damn team. That's not why you're here. It was a mess. There was like, there was this weird black hole where this NBA team should've been.

The absolute bottom of it was 2015–2016 when they won ten out of 82 games that they played. Which I think ties the worst record ever.

ALEX GOLDMAN: And in this moment, did you, as a 76ers fan, trust the process?

GENE: I was the most deeply anti Hinkie person on Sixers twitter.


GENE: There is a bunch of stuff that's out of your control.  Like what if the draft coming up is full of like, eh marginal or mediocre prospects, right? What if you draft someone really high who gets injured? I mean you still have to get really lucky.

PJ: But so like, when they do finally like cash in their draft picks, like what happens? Like do they get lucky?

GENE: Well so, a bunch of weird things happened. So there's this kid from Cameroon, named Joel Embiid. He doesn’t- he didn't speak English 6 or 7 years ago, um he didn't play basketball 6 or 7 years ago. Um, but he's like 7 feet tall, and he's 16, and another NBA player spots him, and brings him to the States, he goes to University of Kansas, he plays incredibly well, like he's a prodigy. He learns English really quickly, he blossoms. Um, and the Sixers, I think had the third pick in the draft, I think that year.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Because of the process, it should be said.

GENE: Because of the process, right? But Embiid gets injured, so he falls to number 3 in the year the Sixers have the 3rd pick, and they draft him. And at the time, he was a long shot. Right? I mean, he was like, he might never play an NBA game, that was like really, a thing that was on the table. 

His first two years actually in the NBA he never actually set foot on the court. And they drafted Ben Simmons, uh this Australian kid who turned out to be very good, but he didn’t play his first year. And so the tanking sort of, I think it was supposed to end when they drafted Embiid, um, I think he was supposed to offset it. The process was theoretically over but these injuries sort of like dragged it on until last year. And that was the time in which like the process trusters started to be validated. 

PJ: What happened?

GENE: Joel Embiid came back. Um, and he played his first NBA games, and he was fucking amazing.


ALL: (laugh)

GENE: He was unbelievable. I mean he was... Like he's this massive human being, who is fluid and agile and can block shots and can dunk and can shoot 3's, amazingly. And so suddenly, like they put him in the lineup, and the Sixers with their sort of hodge-podgey roster, start winning games. Like, they just start winning. And almost overnight, like, I think his first game back, like there was, it was a sell out. But like almost overnight the Sixer's became a big draw again. Because they were competitive. They weren't winning all those games, but suddenly they were in games. And they were fun to watch because he would dunk on somebody and talk shit. Um he’s hilarious. Like he’s great- if you if you get a chance to follow him on twitter, he’s just hilarious. He like, he asked Rihanna on a date, she shot him down, she’s like “You’re not even an All Star.” Right? She’s like “Why would I go on a date with you, you’re not even an All star.” So this year he was an All Star and he was like “I don’t wanna date her now, ‘cause she di- she wasn’t with me before.” He’s like this massively hilarious dude, who like, again, did not speak English 6 or 7 years ago. But is now like, just like one of the funniest interviews in the league. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: But he's also incredibly socially media savvy. And just really... He's just like sort of understands the whole thing.

GENE: Yes.

ALEX BLUMBERG: And so he nicknamed himself, "The Process."

PJ: Wait really?

GENE: Yes.


ALL: (laugh) 


GENE: And so when he comes out to warm ups, I mean when the starting lineups are getting announced, you know "Joel 'The Process' Embiid."

ALL: (laugh)

GENE: Uh, he's like completely like donned the mantle. This is a guy who is a cornerstone, potentially generational talent, right? The Sixers will be, in a few years, like a championship contending team, so long as he stays healthy. Because he's that good. Sam Hinkie could not have dreamt up Joel Embiid.

ALEX BLUMBERG: So we're leaving, we’re leaving out one key part of the story.

GENE: Which is that Sam Hinkie got fired.

ALL: (laugh)

PJ: Before, or after Joel Embiid stepped on the court?

GENE: So he drafted Joel Embiid, but he did not last long enough to see Joel Embiid finally make it onto the court.

ALL: (laugh)

GENE: Because—

ALEX GOLDMAN: And why did he get fired?

ALEX BLUMBERG: Year four of tanking, they were finally like, “you're outta here, Hinkie.”

GENE: And it was, the league actually, I mean like, you gotta understand like, the NBA thought that this was a bad, like they- it is not in their best interests for a team in one of its major markets to actively embrace being as shitty as possible for as long as possible.

PJ: Right.

GENE: And so the league basically sort of ganked the front office, and Sam Hinkie was thrown out on the street. On the way out he wrote this screed, this weird sort of TED-talky...

ALEX BLUMBERG: Infamous. Infamous. I think it’s thirteen pages long. 

GENE: And like depending on who you ask, it was these like, this really smart like screed about thinking outside the box. Or it was just like, you know, corporate bullshit.

PJ: And if we were to ask you, Gene...? (laughs)

GENE: Oh, it was definitely corporate bullshit. 

PJ: (laughs)

ALEX BLUMBERG: It’s also so annoying that the guy who wrote that thirteen page letter, the smug, sort of like weird-- 

GENE: Yes. 

ALEX BLUMBERG: -- was right. 

GENE: Isn’t it though? 

ALL: (laugh) 

ALEX BLUMBERG: Well it's also just like, it's just so annoying that the guy who wrote that 13 page letter, the smug, sort of like weird, sort of, was right. 


GENE: Isn't it though? Like it's so. Yeah. He's this punchable dude, and in the end is like, yeah he is kinda vindicated. And I hate that Sam Hinkie was right. But at that opening game, that away game, against the Wizards here in DC, every time Joel Embiid stepped to the line to shoot a free throw, you would just hear this chant: "Trust the process" “Trust the Process”

ALL: (laugh)

GENE: "Trust the process."

ALEX BLUMBERG: So, I think we are ready to come back to this tweet.

PJ: Oh, right. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Right. I, I feel ready. So you want me to do it, PJ? Or do you wanna do it.

PJ: Go for it. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Okay, so, the tweet in question is a tweet from Joel Embiid that says "Trust the process #hediedforoursins." And it is a quote, quote tweeting at tweet from Sam Hinkie, that says "I love it when a-" "I love it when a plan comes together." And it is a link to a Sports Illustrated article called, “Why Did Sports Illustrated Predict The Astros Would Win The 2017 World Series in 2014.” 

What this tweet means is, the Philadelphia 76ers, who have not won a championship since 1983, hired a—is he a coach, or manager?

GENE: General manager.

ALEX BLUMBERG: He's a GM, yeah.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Hired a general manager named Sam Hinkie, who was very much a quant, and was decided to, uh decided to employ something he called “The Process.” Which was essentially, um, rather than being a middle of the road team he would try and put together the worst team possible in order to get the best draft picks in the hopes that he could, uh get a couple of amazing players and win a championship. Um, this went on for a couple of years until he was fired by the organization. Um but he managed to get two great players, Joel Embiid and, what's the other guys name Ben Simmons?

GENE: Ben Simmons, yep.

ALEX GOLDMAN: Who, even though they had injuries their first two years are now playing and are incredibly good. Um, Joel Embiid himself has given himself the nickname The Process, because he's such a great player and the end result of the quote/unquote “process.” 

And so in this tweet that Joel Embiid is quoting, Sam Hinkie is talking about another sports team, the Houston Astros, who went from being very bad to very good—I’m assuming using a similar process type plan—and he’s referencing them as like a subtweet of the Philadelphia 76ers, basically saying, “This is what happens when you trust the process.” And Joel Embiid is saying, "Yes, trust the process, hashtag, he died for our sins,” the he being Sam Hinkie, and him dying for our sins means that he got fired from the 76ers so that they could make this incredible new lineup. Did I get it?

GENE: That's right! That's pretty good!


PJ: Alright, we're at sports sports sports! Sports!


ALL: (laugh)

GENE: Thank you for having me, this was fun.

ALEX BLUMBERG: Yeah, thank you so much for doing this, Gene. I really appreciate it. 

ALEX GOLDMAN: Thanks, Gene!

PJ: Gene Demby: he’s the co-host of NPR’s excellent Code Switch podcast and the lead blogger on the Code Switch Blog.  



Reply All is hosted by me, PJ Vogt, and Alex Goldman. Our show is produced by Sruthi Pinnamaneni, Phia Bennin, Damiano Marchetti, and Kaitlin Roberts. More production help this week from Khrista Rypl. Our editors are Tim Howard and Sara Sarasohn. Fact checking by Michelle Harris. Our intern is Devon Guinn. 

Special thanks this week to Luke Malone, Ole Melhus, and Princess Chloe. 

And congratulations to our senior producer Phia Bennin who just had twins, Nina and Camille. Phia loves being the center of attention and has gotten tons of sleep, so definitely take time to tweet congratulations at her, she will send you a long handwritten note back.

We were mixed by Rick Kwan. Our theme song is by the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. 

Matt Lieber is candy you’ve never heard of from some other country. 

You can visit our website at replyall.limo, and you can find more episodes of the show on Spotify, or Apple Podcasts, wherever you listen. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you in a couple weeks.