They did it! Well, sort of. With 26 consecutive defeats, the Philadelphia 76ers settled for a tie with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the longest losing streak in NBA history. Why the Sixers decided to halt their skid when they could have easily taken the record all to themselves is anyone’s guess. Probably misery loves company.
By beating the Detroit Pistons March 29, the Sixers also ruined their chance to follow up a perfect oh-for-February with a perfect oh-for-March. They also snapped an 18-game home losing streak, just one shy of yet another NBA record.
Anyway, the Sixers now own or share the two greatest records for ineptitude in NBA history.
Pennsylvania now holds three legs of Grand Slam of Infamy. According to STATS LLC as reported by sports.yahoo.com, the Pittsburgh Penguins hold the NHL record with 18 losses in a row, the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies top baseball with 23 straight losses and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 26 in a row as an expansion team to lead the NFL. Pennsylvania is well-represented here, holding three legs of the Grand Slam of Infamy. Must be something in the water. If only those Pittsburgh Steelers or Philadelphia Eagles would get with the program here!
Record losing season. The 1972-73 Sixers managed a single-digit win total in going 9-73. That is the all-time poorest mark for an NBA team in a full season. Even accounting for the Charlotte Bobcats having a lower winning percentage during the strike-shortened 2012 campaign, the Sixers still own the record for the most losses in a season at 73.
What does tanking get you? At the trade deadline the Sixers made their intentions perfectly clear by unloading to playoff contenders two of their best players (and “best players” is a relative term). The Sixers signaled they were going to tank the remainder of their schedule which would presumably enhance their draft position. However, that’s not always the result in the NBA because the league implemented a draft lottery to discourage teams from intentionally racing to the bottom. The Sixers will not be guaranteed the top pick no matter how far they sink. And judging by the NCAA tournament, there will be slim pickings even if the Sixers get the very top pick. Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker were projected as perhaps the top two lottery picks. But was anyone at all impressed with their NCAA tournament performances? Playing against lightly-regarded Mercer, Parker looked like he couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his jump shot. If he can’t dominate against Mercer, what will he do against the Miami Heat? Also Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who might be college basketball’s player of the year, looked like someone who can be easily defended by the long, quick players who populate NBA rosters. McDermott did not demonstrate he can create his own shot, almost a requirement for success at the next level.
Free agents and trades. In addition to the draft, teams can be rebuilt through trades and free agency. However, the Sixers have a sorry recent history at both. For instance, they traded for Andrew Bynum, who ended up never playing a regular season game for the club yet cost millions. If they had done their homework the Sixers would have realized Bynum was not a very motivated player and that the Los Angeles Lakers won titles despite having him on their roster, not because of having him.
Mismanaged operation. The Sixers lack stability. They have gone through head coaches in recent years as often as a fashion model changes outfits. The Sixers seem to have no direction or plan, other than to shed player salaries while claiming to be reconstructing the team. They are easily one of the poorest managed operations in all of professional sports.
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