In sports we're always quick to praise the overachievers, the dynasties, record setters or those who achieve perfect seasons, but the true beauty in athletics is shown in the perpetual losers who get back up and continue to fight, even when they clearly suck—or at least that's what their mothers tell them. Last night, the New Jersey Nets lost to the L.A. Lakers and made NBA history by tying the record for the worst start to a season in NBA history by going 0-17. Matching the 1999 Clippers, the Nets have put themselves in a league of of greats such as the 2008 0-16 Lions and the 1988 Baltimore Orioles who started the season 0-21.
We encourage the Nets to go hard, and strive for that record of 0-18 on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks because no one remembers second but everyone remembers the worst teams of all time. And in honor of the Nets historic season, we've compiled a list of the worst losing streaks in sports history.
10. 1974-75 WASHINGTON CAPITALS AND 1992-93 SAN JOSE SHARKS
LENGTH: 17 games
STREAK: The Capitals inaugural season was historic for all of the wrong reasons—and their 17-game losing streak only hints at their utter failure. They ended the year with a record of 8-76-5, including losing 39 of 40 road games. Their 17-game skid ended on March 28, 1975 with a win over the California Golden Seals, but they only won one more game after that. Nearly two decades later, the Sharks tied the record by losing 17 straight on their way to a 71-loss season. Look, we're hockey fans and all, but we didn't even know they had 71 games in a season.
9. 1982 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
LENGTH: 24 games
STREAK: The Cavs ended their 1981-82 season on a losing note, with 19 straight L's, and when the '82-'83 schedule kicked off, they picked up right where they left off, dropping another five straight to enter the record books. The sonning finally came to an end when they beat the Golden State Warriors 132-120, but over those two seasons, the Cavs went 15-67 and 23-59, respectively, officially the worst years in franchise history...until LeBron leaves for flashier climes next summer.
8. 2006-2009 NJIT HIGHLANDERS
LENGTH: 51 games
STREAK: The New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders set a record for the longest Division I basketball losing streak over the span of two and a half seasons, losing on February 24, 2007, and not seeing the winning side of the ledger again until the Bryant University Bulldogs succumbed to the Highlanders on January 21, 2009. Perhaps NJIT could've done a little better with swords and some Queen intro music?
7. ANTHONY YOUNG, 1992-93
LENGTH: 27 decisions
STREAK: During his tenure with the Mets from May 6, 1992 to July 14, 1993, Young lost 27 consecutive decisions, an MLB record that still stands today (granted those were some putrid Mets teams, but damn homie, 27 straight is rough!). Over the span of his career Young went 15-48, proving that the only thing he shared with his distant cousin Cy was a last name.
6. 1899 CLEVELAND SPIDERS
LENGTH: 24 games
STREAK: There aren't many instances in history where losing has lead to a team being dropped out of the league but that was the case for the Cleveland Spiders. During the season of their 24-game streak, the Spiders finished with a record of 20-134 and lost 40 of their last 41 games. They also finished 35 games behind the next to last 11th place Washington Senators and their ace Jim Hughey went 4-30, with more losses than any other pitcher that season. The team was demoted to the minor leagues the following season and team owners Frank and Stanley Robinson sold the team to Charles Somers and John Kilfoyle the following year. Decades later the Spiders would be reborn as the Cleveland Indians. New name, same city and same losing ways—the city of Cleveland hasn't won a championship in 45 years.
5. 2007-09 DETROIT LIONS
LENGTH: 19 games
STREAK: The Lions have pretty much been a walking L ever since Barry Sanders retired after the 1998 season, but in 2008 they hit an all-time low, even by their own knee-high to a grasshopper standards. After losing the final game of the 2007-08 season, the Lions lost every game in '08, going 0-16. Number one 2009 draft pick Matthew Stafford stopped the bleeding on September 27, 2009, with 19-14 win over Washinton Redskins at home. However, it didn't last long—Detroit got right back to their old ways by dropping the next six and are currently 2-9 this season.
4. 1976-77 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
LENGTH: 26 losses
STREAK: Inaugural seasons for expansion teams are expected to be rough, but the Bucs' first couple of years were brutal. They went 0-14 in their first season, and didn't notch a W until the 13th week of their second (when they beat the New Orleans Saints 33-14 on December 11, 1977). Losing that many games in a row makes us wonder what was softer: the Bucs defense or those creamsicle uniforms?
3. 1989-98 PRAIRIE VIEW A&M PANTHERS
LENGTH: 80 games
STREAK: Between '89-'98 the Chicago Bulls, New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys picked up 11 championships between 'em, but for the A&M Panthers, the '90s weren't about having a winning season, they were more about trying to have a single victory. The worst of the near-decade of losing came in 1991 when they surrendered an average of 56 points per game while putting up 48 points the entire season. The losing finally came to an end when they beat Langston State 14-12. You know shit is rough when beating Langston State by two is your highlight for a ten-season span.
2. 2003-2008 PETER BUCKLEY, BOXER
LENGTH: 88 consecutive bouts
STREAK: English welterweight Peter Buckley can be called a lot of things (tomato can, pushover, likely sufferer of congenital stupidity) but "quitter" isn't one of them. He had a career spanning 300 fights, including an 88-bout losing skid that was broken on October 31, 2008 with a win by decision over Matin Muhammad. Afterward though, Buckley retired on top. 256 losses + only 10 by knockout = not much dignity, but maybe a few more brain cells than your average boxer.
1. 1996-07 CAL TECH BEAVERS
LENGTH: 207 games
STREAK: Only a few extraordinary Division III teams get coverage from major media outlets like ESPN, but the Beavers had their 15 minutes of fame in 2007 when they were victorious for the first time in a decade. Of course that victory came on the heels of a Div. III-record 207-game losing streak. Sure, Cal Tech graduates some of the smartest people in the county, but you don't know Jack on the court if your first step is slower than this dude.
BONUS: 2005-08 ROBERT DEE, TENNIS PLAYER
LENGTH: 54 International Tennis Federation matches
STREAK: British professional tennis player Robert Dee lost 54 consecutive ITF matches, equaling Diego Beltranena of Guatemala who set the bar by going winless from 1997 through 2005. After beating Arzhang Derakhshani in April of 2008 at the Tennis Federation (ITF) Futures tournament, Dee received lots of satirical praise from British media who dubbed him the worst professional tennis player in the world. Dee later sued the papers claiming that his consecutive losses were only in ITF matches
or ones that actually count, saying that he had won 20 matches outside of the ITF. In a result that was completely out of character for Dee, he actually won the suit, with several news outlets forced to issue apologies. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, at least get 'em to say "I'm sorry."