The basketball origin of term ‘trust the process’–a punchline failing to land at Arsenal

In 2019 a new cycle began at Arsenal, one filled with risky and bold decisions. At the forefront of this was the appointment of former player Mikel Arteta, the first managerial endeavour of the Spaniard.

The road since then has been turbulent for the gunners as they hit a new low last season, failing to qualify for European football for the first time in 20 years.

Throughout the uncertainty, the Arsenal supporters have mostly remained positive, using the expression ‘trust the process’ as an optimistic rally cry.

The phrase entered the limelight for Arsenal supporters following a press conference by Arteta in which he urged Gooners to put some faith in the ‘process’. However, the origin of the phrase dates back to 2015, during Wenger’s reign at the Gunners.

The origin of ‘trust the process’

Associated primarily with NBA side Philadelphia 76ers, it refers to the long and arduous cycle brought about by Sam Hinkle, who was appointed in 2013 as the team’s president.

Tasked with the laborious assignment of bringing glory back to the sixers, Hinkle adopted a policy of patience and persistence.

The 76ers would essentially lose games on purpose throughout the season in order to get first pick during the NBA draft.

Hinkle believed that it was marquee players that win championships and so a first pick in the draft featuring a fresh crop of highly-rated amateur players offered an opportunity to strengthen the ranks.

Fans had to endure difficult periods as this philosophy came with a lot of hardship. Eventually, it worked as the 76ers slowly gained relevance and became strong title contenders.

The Arsenal version

The key difference between Arsenal and the 76ers, both of whom have a seemingly corresponding ideology regarding faith despite the hardships, is the way the process is presented to its fans.

For fans of the sixers ‘trust the process’ became a way of life, it had a cultural impact and cemented its place in the team’s history.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have been crying out for competent guidance ever since Arsene Wenger’s departure. Unai Emery tried but failed and in came Arteta.

2 years have gone by and Arsenal are no closer to glory than they were when he took charge of the Gunners.

Rather than showing ambition and unity, ‘trust the process’ now is essentially a sarcastic remark used by opposition and Arsenal fans alike, as the ‘process’ apparently continues to head nowhere.

Loss to Everton

Arteta’s side floundered against the Toffees, who are allegedly undergoing a crisis behind the scenes with the sacking of Marcel Brands as the club’s director of football.

Recent results indicated an on-field crisis as well for Benitez’s men, having remained winless in their last 8 outings in the Premier League.

Putting all this in perspective, one would have expected the Gunners to grab a win at Goodison Park.

Instead, fans witnessed an uninventive performance and a late winner for Everton added further insult to injury.

Arsenal currently sits in 7th, having room to make up in the race for the top 4 spots in the table. A significant portion of Arsenal supporters seems to be at their wit’s end with Arteta. It remains to be seen for just how long the board continues to trust the ‘process’.