Pathetic is a harsh word. When dealing with facts, however, it is sometimes necessary.
These franchises have been bad and occasionally downright embarrassing over the course of their tenure. Excuses can be tossed around regarding the length of that tenure, but in the end it comes down to winning and winning consistently.
There are three franchises in the NBA with a sub-.400 winning percentage. None of these franchises has won an NBA title either. These make up the bottom rung of the league's unspeakable cellar.
The next level includes some teams with losing franchise records and the lack of a championship. Some of these franchises have been around for quite some time, meaning they are just as pathetic as their lower counterparts.
When determining a franchise's pathetic level, numerous factors come into play. Obviously overall winning percentage allows us to even the playing field for younger franchises. Number of titles will always be an important qualification, but a franchise's playoff-percentage (postseason appearances per season) is the most significant factor.
An interesting aspect I chose to look at was how many head coaches each franchise has gone through, which shows the average number of seasons a coach lasts with a program.
Those who scored lowest all around, as harsh as it sounds, are pathetic.