The Los Angeles Lakers made history on Sunday, but probably not the kind fans of the Purple and Gold are used to.
Falling to the Los Angeles Clippers in a 120-97 laugher, the Lakers matched a franchise milestone nobody will want to remember:
The Lakers lose 120-97, picking up their 52nd loss in the process - tying them with the '74-75 team for the worst squad in Lakers history— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 6, 2014
Before the landmark loss, head coach Mike D'Antoni offered some perspective on the so-called rivalry between his team and the surging Clippers, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
I don't think you change anything in one year. The Lakers have been the most dominant thing the last 50-60 years. That doesn't erase overnight, either. It would be a long (process), and I don't think it will ever erase. That's just the way it is. The Lakers are always going to be special and hopefully can get back there sooner than later.
On the one hand, D'Antoni is absolutely right. One bad season—even a terrible one—doesn't suddenly alter the fact that the Lakers have been the dominant Los Angeles outfit for decades. He's right to keep things in perspective, even if some of his words probably stem from a desire to retain his job next season.
Consider this: The Clippers have lost at least 52 games a whopping 22 times since they came into existence in the 1970-71 season (as the Buffalo Braves). So unless the Lakers reel off another two-plus decades of equally atrocious play, they're in no danger of falling behind their arena mates in the "historical ineptitude" department.
Even if the Lakers drop all five of their remaining games to finish with 57 losses this year, they still won't even sniff the Clippers' awful mark of 13 such seasons. On the flip side, D'Antoni's boys will really have to turn it on down the stretch to avoid dreaded loss No. 53:
Lakers lose 120-97 to Clippers. Have to win out to avoid having the worst record in franchise history in Los Angeles— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 6, 2014
Sole possession of the worst record in franchise history would be a bad look for this Lakers team, but no matter what happens between now and the end of the year, history won't be kind:
This will go down as worst @Lakers squad since team moved down to Los Angeles. Record reflects pathetic roster. Need big offseason.— Ethan Norof (@Mr_Norof) April 6, 2014
The 2014-15 campaign isn't likely to be a picnic for the Lakers with Kobe Bryant's advancing age and dubious health headlining things. But it's hard to fathom another year nearly as bad as this one.
Perhaps that's because the Lakers have simply never been this bad before.
Relying on a history of winning is a dangerous thing to do, especially when it leads to a feeling of exceptionalism, something the Lakers oftentimes approach. But it's also key to remember that, sometimes, one bad season is just that: one bad season.
With serious cap room and a lottery pick forthcoming, the Lakers will bounce back. And even if they don't rebound to their previous levels, they've got a long way to go before they have to worry about matching the Clips' legacy of futility.