The worst of the worst

In honor of the awful Cavaliers, today we look at some of the worst teams in the history of professional U.S. sports. As incredible as it sounds with their record 26-game losing streak, which ended Friday, the Cavs likely won't come close to being the worst team in NBA history. That notoriety goes to the 1972-73 76ers. So the next time you complain about one of your teams, look at this list and think how bad it could be.

1993-? Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have had 18 consecutive losing seasons, a record for the four major North American sports. Last season's Buccos, including Hayden Penn, above, went 57-105, their third-most losses in franchise history and .352 winning percentage their worst since 1954. And the future doesn't look hopeful.

1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers

Still the only team in NBA history to win fewer than 10 games in a full season. Billy Cunningham, above, and teammates started 0-15, and things didn't get much better. They also had losing streaks of 13, 14 and 20 games and finished 9-73 — just a mere 59 games out of first place.

1976 and 1977 Tampa Bay Bucs

Oh, the lovable Tampa Bay Yucks, losers of 26 in a row to start their franchise before winning the final two games of the 1977 season. It's almost not fair, when you think about it, to include the Bucs because they were an expansion team with no possible hope of assembling talent to compete. Then again, when you think of the worst teams in pro sports, the 0-26 Bucs are often the first team that comes to mind.

1992-93 Dallas Mavericks

This team won its last two games of the season to finish 11-71 or else it would've matched the 1972-73 76ers with the worst record in NBA history. It had losing streaks of 19, 15 and 12 games.

1972-73 New York Islanders

This expansion team would go on to win four straight Stanley Cups from 1979 to 1983. But the inaugural team had a 14-game winless streak and, later, a 12-game losing streak. Its 12-60-4 record would have been worse had it not gone 3-2-1 in its final six.

1981 Baltimore Colts

This team beat the Patriots to start the season and the Pats again to close the season. (By the way, the Pats went 2-14 that season.) In between, the Colts lost 14 in a row and finished 2-14 themselves. They gave up a ridiculous 533 points. The next closest team that season allowed 408.

1974-75 Washington Capitals

This expansion team won only eight games, the fewest ever by a team playing at least 70 games. Its 21 points (8-67-5) is still the fewest in NHL history. It was 1-39 on the road.

1992-93 Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks

The Lightning's expansion cousin Senators won their first game then narrowly avoided being the worst team in NHL history by finishing 10-70-4, including 1-41 on the road. They finished with 24 points. So did the Sharks, who went 11-71-2 in their second year of existence.

1989-90 Quebec Nordiques

The Nordiques went 12-61-7 while allowing about five goals a game. They won only six of their final 57 games.

1960 Dallas Cowboys

The first season of the Cowboys and legendary coach Tom Landry. They took a 14-0 lead in their first game. Then the season crumbled. They lost that opener and finished 0-11-1 while getting outscored 369-177.

1961 New York Giants

The football Giants' worst season as they went 1-12-1. Their best offensive output was 41 points … and they lost by 31! That's right. They lost 72-41 and also by scores of 52-7, 55-14 and 31-3.

1972 and 1973 Houston Oilers

The Oilers of 1972 and 1973 might be the worst back-to-back teams in sports history. They went 1-13 both seasons. Over a two-year span, they were outscored 827-363. That's an average score of 30-13.

1971 Buffalo Bills

How do you go 1-13 in a season? Easy. Finish last in the league in offense and defense. Throw 32 interceptions. Get shut out four times. Never score more than 19 points in a game. Yep, that'll do it. What's especially stunning is this team had running back O.J. Simpson.

1980 New Orleans Saints

The old Aints became infamous when fans showed up with bags over their heads. They were well on their way to a winless season when they somehow won the next-to-last game. They allowed at least 20 points in every game and finished 1-15.

1982 Baltimore Colts

This team went 0-8-1, and it would have been worse had a strike not cut out a good chunk of the season. They scored just 121/2 points per game.

1990 New England Patriots

Most bad teams are lovable. This team was not only bad, it was despicable. Aside from going 1-15 and giving up 265 more points than they scored, the Patriots embarrassed themselves when several players sexually harassed a female reporter.

1991 Indianapolis Colts

The Colts scored only 143 points, the fewest over a 16-game season. They once went five games in a row without a touchdown and scored only 14 touchdowns all season to end up 1-15.

2003 Detroit Tigers

This team was well on its way to having the worst record in baseball history but won five of its last six games to finish 43-119. That still was bad enough to set the American League record for losses. Its best pitcher was Mike Maroth, who won nine games. He also lost 21.

1962 New York Mets

The 1962 Mets are often considered the most inept team in history. To be fair, it was an expansion team. Still, the Mets went 40-120 under manager Casey Stengel and finished 10th among 10 National League teams, 601/2 games out of first and 18 behind the ninth-place Cubs.

2008 Detroit Lions

The only team in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game season. Funny, but it went 4-0 in the preseason. During the regular season, the Lions lost by a touchdown or less only four teams and lost by 10 or more points 10 times.

1989 Dallas Cowboys

In quarterback Troy Aikman's rookie season, the Cowboys offense scored one touchdown or none in 10 of 16 games. The result: a 1-15 record.

1935 Boston Braves

This was Babe Ruth's final season. He made it to only June, and the Braves finished 38-115. Pitcher Ben Cantwell lost 25 games, and no one since then has lost that many.

1916 Philadelphia A's

The A's went 36-117, and their .235 winning percentage is still the lowest ever for a big-league team after 1900.

1899 Cl Cleveland Spiders

The Spiders went 20-134 for a winning percentage of .130 — the worst in baseball history. Not surprisingly, the team was disbanded after the season. Thanks to the 1899 Spiders, the 2010-11 Cavaliers have no fear of being the worst team in Cleveland sports history.

The worst of the worst 02/12/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 13, 2011 1:02am]

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