When playing in the NBA, you can always hold you head high no matter how low you feel because:
b)it always gets better, eventually
c)you're putting a ball in a basket for a living and make trillions doing it (and have lots of hot women lusting after you (or the trillions))
But yeah, I understand: losing sucks. And when you lose a lot (and I mean a looooot) it can wear you down. It takes just a little bit of extra time to recover and to regain the belief that perhaps one day the agony of defeat will go away. It will. But first you got to win and stop the bleeding.
The 2010/2011 Cleveland Cavaliers are chasing (or rather, falling face first into) history. But they have the misfortune of not only making league history but franchise history as well. As you'll see, the Cleveland Cavs have some, well, history with history, especially in regards to losing streaks.
So yeah, it gets better. But if you're a Cavs fan, you must be thinking, 'yeah, then it gets WORSE'!
Here are 15 other NBA teams that stunk on the hardwood for a long time. For most, it's a distant memory. For others, well, it's a reunion with an old friend.
When you are a team with a)Vince Carter and b)an odd mixture of old vets and young talent, you're going to come up short. The 2008/2009 Nets really shouldn't get too much blame for this streak as they simply got it started, smacking it on the backside and moving it forward.
A spine bending loss to the New York Knicks on April 15th, 2009 (final score: Knicks 102 Nets 73) completed a very below average season for the New Jersey squad in which they finished 34-48. But, for all New Jersey knew, it was just a disappointing end to a bad season; more of the same.
But the next season's squad, led by Devin Harris and Brook Lopez, continued the misery all the way through summer and into December with a grueling 19 game losing streak. Along the way, the Nets lost a coach (Lawrence Frank was fired after starting 0-16) and set the record for the worst start to an NBA season ever (0-18). They finished 12-70.
It hasn't got better yet.
What a start to the season! The Magic were flying high with an 85-83 OT victory over the New York Knickerbockers led by reigning scoring champ Tracy McGrady's 26 points. At 1-0, the Magic looked primed to at least go 2-0 or maybe even 3-0!
Instead they went 2-19, losing 19 games in a row and sending coach Doc Rivers packing half way through the deluge. It just goes to show you that a)scoring isn't everything (McGrady won another scoring title at 28.0 PPG but the Magic went 21-61) but b)every rainy day(s) has it's benefits. Thanks to the Magic's season long ineptitude, they got the #1 pick in the draft and got Dwight Howard.
It got way better.
No list full of negativity is complete without Vancouver showing up. But don't worry Grizzlies fans, your beloved squad is only in here once. Oh. . .wait. . .okay: they are only in here once for this particular season. Oh. . .man. . .um. . .
The Vancouver Grizzlies got off on the right foot, winning it's first two games and making Canada proud. Then the pain began: there was 19 straight losses and it took overtime against the Trailblazers on December 15th, 1995 to end it (the Grizzlies had beaten Portland two times out of two at that point. I call that ownage!).
This squad gets a bit of a break though. It was a first year squad with a first year coach and very little veteran help. They finished 15-67 which, believe it or not, was one of their better years.
The Mavericks have been a consistent franchise for the last decade or so, winning, more often then not, more then losing. But there was a time when they were pretty terrible and winning over 20 games was considered a great season.
Any Mavs fan dreads thinking about anything basketball between 1990 and 1999 (the best win output during that time was 36 which was the only time the 30 win threshold was passed). But if you had to pick a season to block out of your memory permanently, it'd be '92/'93.
Led by Derek Harper and containing 13 players with only one year of experience or less, the Mavericks won 11 games all year, losing 19 straight from February to March 1993. To add insult to injury, the Mavs also lost 12 straight and 15 straight earlier in the year. At least they won seven of their last 21 (63% of their season win total) and their final two games.
*Fun fact (depending on who you are): The Mavs had two coaches in '92/'93. Richie Adubato went 2-27 and Gar Heard went 9-44.
I won't pick on the Clippers as much as I've picked on some other teams (hey, I'm a Magic fan and my team is on this list with loads of sarcasm attached to it) because, well, they're the Clippers and get enough grief just for the fact that they exist.
Of course they had a long losing streak (19 straight) but they had Danny Manning, a favorite player of mine, and they had loads of other rookies. And they are the Clippers. 'Nuff said.
*note on photo above: I couldn't find anything on the San Diego Clippers in Getty Images except either Bill Walton the year before the losing streak or Norm Nixon the year after the losing streak but I wanted to get a picture of the San Diego uniform. I'm sure all records from 1981/82 were destroyed due to age or shame. Sorry for the inaccuracy with my slide show. It couldn't be helped. Plus it actually gives me something to write about since I have absolutely nothing to say in regards to the 1981/1982 San Diego Clippers. I didn't even known the Clippers played in San Diego until now. Weird. All right. I'll try to muster up something to make this slide interesting.
The 1981/82 San Diego Clippers lost a lot of games, losing 65 on the season, despite the impressive play of a young Tom Chambers and the coaching talents of Paul Silas. The Clips had a two game winning streak twice and, like the complete opposite of the 2003/2004 Orlando Magic that the SD Clips share the 19 game losing streak mark with, they won their last game of the season after the 19 game skid.
*picture note: once again, no 1972/73 images to be found for this dreaded 76ers team. I'll just use the above picture as a metaphor for whenever a 76er player looks back on this particular part of it's storied history.
In 1972/73, the 76ers name wasn't simply a name but a lifestyle. The 1972/73 76ers are perhaps the worst team known to man, losing 73 games! The '10 New Jersey Nets flirted with the 76ers horror show of a record (9-73) but managed to squeak out an additional three victories to avoid the shame.
Only one other team in history has won single digits in a season (the '99 Grizzlies) but that was due to a shortened season (only 50 games). And the 76ers didn't get off to a good start during that historical year by losing 15 in a row. The previous year's squad, led by Jack Ramsey, lost it's last four to make this streak look worse then it is.
It got a lot better. . .and better. . .
Led by Ron Harper and Loy Vaught, the Clippers ended 1993 on a bad note with four losses, though they finished the season with a good (by Clippers standards) record of 27-55. Things only got worse.
With Harper gone and Malik Sealy in (one of my favorite players, may he rest in peace), the Clippers started with 16 straight losses, avoiding number 17 after winning a tight OT game against the Bucks. I'll give them the first two losses since they played in Japan against the Blazers (jet lag) but 14 in a row is still bad.
The Clippers went 4-9 to finish 1994 but only won 13 more games on it's way to a 17-65 record.
Hey Mavs fans, at least it wasn't as bad as 1992/93. What would you rather have: a 19 game losing streak and only win 11 games total or a 20 game losing streak but win 13 games total?
This Mavs squad, led by one-time coach and former player Quinn Buckner, did win two more games then it had the previous year but started off the year very poorly by only winning three of it's first 42 games. The 20 game losing streak was supported by opening the year with four straight losses and, post-20 game streak, another 16 game skid.
As soon as the '90s were over, it got better.
The Knicks are a team of decades. Awesome in the '70s, mostly terrible or mediocre in the '80s, good to great in the '90s, and terrible again in the '00s. 1985 and 1986 might be the lowest points of the 1980's era Knicks in which, alongside winning only 20ish games for a few seasons in a row, had a massive losing streak of 20 games weighing them down.
The only real notables on the team in these years was a rookie Patrick Ewing ('85/'86 season) and a rookie Gerald Wilkins ('85/'86) who led the team in total points. Bill Cartwright played for them too in his sharper elbowed, younger days.
The '84/'85 squad didn't bless young Ewing with a welcoming gift: their end of season 12 game losing streak forever scarred the '85/'86 team, who lost a not-disgusting and perfectly understandable 8 games to start the season (making the total a rough 20 straight).
Here we go again! When you have the worst record in league history, there isn't much good to be gleaned off of it. It is an out right joke or, as the kids call it these days, an EPIC FAIL. So of course this squad would own a second (and worse) losing streak mark.
But this time, the 'worst ever' squad doesn't get anyone to partially blame for the losses. The 20 straight was all them. After losing 20 straight, the 76ers traded off wins and losses before closing out the season with another 13 game losing tear.
Richie Adubato, coach of many a bad record, was the coach during this particularly ugly streak
*picture note: above is coach Richie Adubato, a coach I am starting to learn is pretty awful.
The large portion of the blame goes to the '79/'80 squad who lost their final 14 games of the season under coach (and losing streak veteran-to-be) Richie Adubato (it should be noted Adubato did replace even worse head coach Dick Vitale earlier that season). But the '80/'81 squad did lose its first seven games which isn't necessarily historically awful but, unfortunately, a crutch into the history books.
If you haven't noticed, teams that have long losing streaks pretty much lose for a majority of their season. The 11-71 Denver Nuggets were so bad that first time coach Bill Hanzlik became one time coach Bill Hanzlik. Very few teams have won as little as 11 games (or worse) so finding something nice to say is hard.
Let's just break down the season for you (it was easy to do): Nuggets lose 12 in a row to start the season, win one, lose three, win one, lose 23, win one, lose two, win one, lose 16, win two (only winning streak), lose 1, win one, lose 4, win one, lose 4, win one, lose 3, win one, lose one. That is just stinky.
Cleveland fans should know that head coach Byron Scott played on the '95/'96 Grizzlies squad that went 15-67 and had two top 10 (all-time) losing streaks of, first, 19 and, later in the season, 23. He managed to recover and brought playoff glory to New Jersey as a coach. But it must have been hard to go from championships in LA to an expansion doghouse, but such is life.
This Grizzlies squad happened to come into the league when the Bulls were on their way to a 72-10 regular season so some of their losses can be discounted there. However, the Bulls never played them during this particular 23 game streak so darn it, I'm out a positive response.
Okay, well, the Grizzlies played two overtime games during the 23 games so they fought hard. That's all I got.
It never got better: the Grizzlies moved.
*Picture note: Yes, I know it's Ron Harper from the 1987 Cleveland Cavs but, once again, not a lot of images of a terrible Cavs team from the early 80s. Hey, the picture looks old and just use your imagination and pretend it's World B. Free or Ron Brewer or something, all right?
Well, this is both the cornerstone of losing (if you want to be positive) or the bottom of the barrel (if you want to be negative): 24 straight losses. Nineteen in '81/'82 and five in '82/'83. The '81/'82 squad is certainly the most to blame.
That 15-67 squad had four coaches that year and not one of them won in double digits (Don Delaney was 4-11, Bob Kloppenburg was 0-3, Chuck Daly was 9-32, and Bill Musselman was 2-21). And no player averaged over 19 PPG or 9 RPG. Add to that some baaad defense (the Cavs allowed 111.7 opponent PPG) and you get a historically bad team.
But will it be historically redeemed by another team or, at least, the same team in a different year?
Are they on the edge of (bad) history? Will they save their fan base the embarrassment of being the top two squads on the all-time losing list if this current squad gets to 24 or 25 losses? Will the Cavs have company with Vancouver and Detroit or will they get their own little niche in the bad history books having the worst single season losing streak at 24?
Time will tell but some anxious Grizzlies fan are happy they moved down from 2nd worst all time to co-2nd worst all time (hey, it's something). Here are the next two games for the Cavaliers. Will the second game be the rise of even more rage, anger, and disappointment in the fine city of Cleveland or can some redemption be had in the Lebron-less, suffering city?
vs. Blazers (24 straight if they lose and tied for worst all time with themselves)
vs. Mavericks (25 straight if they lose and the worst of all time)