The Philadelphia 76ers made history on Monday — just not in a good way. They lost their 21st consecutive game, putting them tied for sixth for the longest losing streak in the National Basketball Association’s storied history. Led by six-year veteran Thaddeus Young’s 17.8 points per game and rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who has been Philadelphia’s floor general, the 76ers have failed to find success almost entirely. Philadelphia’s 15-52 record is currently the Eastern Conference’s second-to-worst tally (yes, somehow the team with a 21-game losing streak isn’t in last place) and they’re two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.
This losing streak has generated a lot of attention lately, and no, it’s not because it’s near the league’s record. There is a recurring belief that the 76ers are purposely tanking to set them up with a potentially higher selection in this year’s stacked draft. But even if head coach Brett Brown has continually played a lineup worthy of a second-string NBA team (starting players who have no right to see the court, for example), history has been made, and that counts for something. Instead of dissecting the questionable decisions made by the 76ers staff, here’s a look at the six worst losing streaks in the NBA. At the end of the day, who knows how far Philadelphia will go?
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2011), 26
When LeBron James announced in the summer of 2010 that he would not re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers but instead take his “talents to South Beach” and play for the Miami Heat, fans were crushed. As he was born and bred in the Cleveland/Akron area, he was a local hero who also happened to be the team’s star player. And the season after his abrupt change of heart, the Cavaliers had not recovered — all the way en route to setting the league’s longest losing streak.
Starting on December 20 and going all the way until February 11, Cleveland lost a record-setting 26 straight games. It wasn’t that the Cavaliers had a terrible roster: It was just that they tried to replace one of the best players in the game with two used-to-be-good veterans (then 31-year-old Baron Davis and then 34-year-old Antawn Jamison) who were more role players than stars. They were able to get decent production from forward JJ Hickson, who averaged 13.8 points per game, but statistically, they just couldn’t replicate the effect James had.