By Michael C. Jones
What do you know, the Sixers actually won! Philadelphia’s woefully abysmal NBA team tarnished the going-away party for Kobe Bryant, a Philly native, by beating the Lakers 103-91 Tuesday night. The win means the Sixers avoided breaking the record for the worst losing streak to start a season in NBA history. That’s a record, 0-18, that these Sixers share with the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets.
How does that mark for season-opening futility stack up against the other major sports? Let’s find out!
MLB: That’s A Philly Team Too!
The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies hold the modern Major League record for losses to start a season. Not since the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys had a Major League team opened a season with 23 straight losses. That dreadful Phillies season was the last in Philadelphia for starting pitcher Robin Roberts, who despite this blemish on his record, would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.
NHL: It’s Not The Flyers!
Here’s a record for season-opening futility that does not belong to Philadelphia. The 1943-44 New York Rangers began their season with 11 consecutive losses. Like the Phillies and Robin Roberts, those Rangers also had a big star in Bryan Hextall, a forward who was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969. His genetic hockey legacy was carried on by sons Bryan Jr. and Dennis, and more memorable to modern fans, his grandson, goaltender and Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame member Ron Hextall.
NFL: The Bucs Lose To The Lions On A Technicality
Unless and until the NFL expands the regular season schedule, the 2008 Detroit Lions hold a record that can’t be broken: they went winless to finish the season 0-16. Percentage-wise, the record can be equaled, and until that Lions team fumbled their way through the 2008 season, the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers held the record after going 0-14 in their inaugural 1976 season. Heck, even our beloved Seattle Seahawks won two games in their initial ’76 season.