It has been widely publicized today that last night's annihilation of the New Orleans Hornets by the Denver Nuggets is the worst loss in NBA history. It is certainly the largest margin of victory ever in the playoffs, and it is the worst loss for any NBA home team.
It made me think: Is this the worst loss ever in sports?
In looking back at some of the worst losses in history in terms of margin of victory, there is one factor that stands out: All of these games happened a long, long time ago.
In 1963, the Ramblers of Loyola (Chicago) dismantled Tennessee Tech in the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament by 69 points. It is the worst loss in tournament history, but clearly a mismatch. Therefore, although the margin is smaller, the Nuggets/Hornets game survives as a worse defeat.
In 1944, the Detroit Red Wings shut out the New York Rangers, 15-0, in the biggest loss in NHL history. However, unlike the Rangers, the Hornets were playing at home. Given the average total score for an NBA game is about 200, and that for hockey it's around six, then the 58-point loss by the Hornets is statistically more significant than the Rangers' 1944 loss.
In 1916, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland College in perhaps the greatest display of domination in the history of sports. The final score was 222-0. To be fair though, this was clearly a game between two mismatched opponents, and there was nothing really on the line, so this has to rank behind the Hornets and their lackluster attempt on Monday night.
In 1897, the Chicago Colts (who would become the Cubs) scored what is still today the National League record of runs in a game with 36. They defeated the Louisville Colonels 36-7. It is the largest margin of victory in baseball history. However, the Colonels did score seven times. That's not terrible, and it was in the 19th century, so I'll stick with the Hornets.
In 1940, the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins 73-0 in the NFL championship game. Now we're talking. This is a game of historical importance, and the Redskins had actually beaten the Bears during the regular season. An interesting fact about this game is the Redskins and Bears actually had the same number of first downs (17). The difference was Chicago's eight interceptions of Redskins QB Sammy Baugh, three of which were returned for touchdowns.
So Hornets, you're safe. It was only the second worst loss in the history of sports.