The NBA All-Star Break is the Perfect Time to Look Back at the Worst Teams from the Past 30 years
All-Star weekend is typically the time of year when the league comes together to celebrate its best athletes.
It’s also the time of year when we tend to forget about the absolute worst athletes, and, in many cases, the worst teams.
But at the midway point of this NBA season, it’s tough to look the other way when it comes to the league’s futility. In fact, a look at the league standings shows three or four teams are living up to their billing as the some of the worst franchises of our generation.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, for example, lost 26 straight games to match the worst losing streak in American pro sports history (the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also lost 26 straight games in from 1976-77).
The Cavs have been catching the headlines because of the skid and the LeBron James debacle, but the Sacramento Kings (13-40), Minnesota Timberwolves (13-40) and Toronto Raptors (15-41) haven’t been much better.
Then there’s the Clippers, who are still the Clippers despite the emergence of Blake Griffin – the fresh new face of All-Star Weekend here in Los Angeles. In fact, even with the Rookie of the Year favorite, the Clippers’ winning percentage (.375) isn’t much better than the all-time franchise record (.362 winning) coming into the year.
In honor of the above teams and their the non-stars being ignored this weekend, BallHyped.com presents The Top 10 Worst Sports Franchises of Our Generation, taken from the NBA, MLB and NFL.
How did we come up with this list? First we looked at titles, or a lack thereof. Then we looked at records over the past 30 years, attendance, payroll, and, most importantly, the names on the jerseys (front and back). Winning was the difference maker in most cases, as some of these teams just wreak of losing.
So a woeful franchise like the Pittsburgh Pirates (7 titles) wasn’t included here because they’ve won a title in my lifetime (I was born in 1977, and they won in ’79). And, a little known fact about the Pirates, they have a .459 win percentage since that last World Series crown, which is far better than the 10 losers on this list … The Top 10 Worst Sports Franchises of Our Generation (sorted by win percentage over the past 30 years).
10. Tampa Bay Rays (.439 win pct.)
OK, this is a bit unfair, because we just mentioned the Pirates, who have averaged about 30 games back in the NL Central the past three seasons, but the overall numbers don’t lie. Just because you dropped the Devil from your name, it doesn’t make you a better franchise. The ’Rays (932-1192 since 1998, a .439 percentage) have been better of late, winning the AL East two of the past three years, but finishing fifth in nine of the previous 10 seasons, not to mention an average attendance that’s among the league’s worst even on a good year, gets them in our Top 10 heading into the 2011 season.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (.422 win pct.)
You knew the Cincinnati Bungles would find a way onto this list, even with some playoff success in the 80s. Even with that success, the Bengals are just 199-272-1 the past 30 years, and their all-time record flat out stinks too (290-382-2). Don’t listen to Chad Ochocino, any franchise that’s only been in the NFL since the 1970s and has almost 100 more losses than wins doesn’t rock. If only the Bengals hadn’t been rocked by the 49ers in those two Super Bowls, then maybe it’d be a different story.
8. Toronto Raptors (.411 win pct.)
Oh yeah, the Raptors lost a pretty good player too in the offseason. Since Chris Bosh bolted, Toronto has been hideous, going 15-41 over the first half of the season, putting their all-time record at 528-757. Since joining the NBA prior to the 1995-96 season, the Raptors have enjoyed only five winning seasons. Any time you can count your winning seasons on one hand, you know you’re in trouble.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (.407 win pct.)
It seems like forever ago when the Timberwolves made eight consecutive playoff appearances from 1997-2004. But even with that stretch of quick postseason exits under Flip Saunders, the T’Wolves have failed as a franchise, reaching the 1,000-loss plateau midway through their 22nd season. The good news? They’re winning percentage is up from .183 a year ago! The bad news? They have the second-worst record (13-40) in the league behind the forgettable Cavs. But at least they have an All-Star in Kevin Love, right?
6. Charlotte Bobcats (.384 win pct.)
The Bobcats are coming off their first-ever playoff appearance, swept away by Orland a year ago, but they’re not immune to the worst franchises list. Michael Jordan might be practicing with them, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Bobcats are 212-340 as a franchise. Let’s see if they can hold on to the second-best record of their short-lived franchise history.
5. Houston Texans (.382 win pct.)
Houston is a prime example of what can happen to an expansion team that’s had a rough go in the draft and has yet to field a competitive squad. The Texans are 55-89 as a franchise since 2002. They’ve yet to make the playoffs, and, other than some rookies of the year, they don’t have a lot to show for it. But Houston has finished in the top three the past three seasons, so maybe they’re due for their second winning season since joining the league?
4. Arizona Cardinals (.380 win pct.)
We’re doing the Cardinals a favor by leaving them out of the top 3, because they have the same winning percentage as the Detroit Lions on this list since moving to Arizona prior to the 1988 season. The Cardinals did make it to the Super Bowl in 2008, but as a franchise – dating to Chicago and St. Louis days – the Cardinals are still a brutal 478-686-39. The Cards do have two NFL championships, but the Detroit Lions have four, so maybe we shouldn’t give them a break just because they made it to the big game a couple years ago.
3. Detroit Lions (.380 win pct.)
While Detroit was a power in the 50s, they’ve been getting pummeled ever since. They’ve only won one playoff game since the 50s, and the Lions are 327-450-17 ( .421 winning percentage) since capturingtheir fourth NFL crown in 1957. Since the 80s, they’ve been even worse, going 188-299-1. And that 0-16 season they had in 2008? Yeah, remember that next time someone suggests this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers (who didn’t even make our Top 10) are the worst sports team ever.
2. Clippers (.346 win pct.)
While some of these teams have an excuse, being recent expansion franchises, the Clippers have no such excuse. Since the 1980-81 season, the Clippers are 859-1625! They’ve always been horrible, even with all of those first-round picks. Will Blake Griffin and Co. break that trend? Not by the All-Star break.
1. Memphis Grizzlies (.342 win pct.)
A surprising pick for the top spot, the Memphis Grizzlies are calling this year “a season 10 years in the making.” And they’re right, the Grizzlies are off to a good start – enjoying their best winning percentage since advancing to the playoffs with winning seasons from 2004-06. Unfortunately for the Griz, they’re still 414-795 as a franchise, dating to the Vancouver days, and have yet to win a playoff game since breaking into the league in 1995. Since moving to Memphis prior to the 2001-02 season, the Grizzlies have been better, but they’ve also had their fair share of pitfalls, winning less than 30% of their games in 2001-02, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09.
- By Brian Milne,
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