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There are bad NBA teams. There are worse NBA teams. Then there are the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats. For nearly 40 years, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers set the standard for National Basketball Association futility, waiting for the day when another team would rise up–er, sink down–and trump their 9-73 win-loss record. Finally, in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the 7-59 Bobcats managed the feat, making them the worst of the worst in NBA history.
5 2009-10 New Jersey Nets (12-70)
The 2009-10 Nets set the bar low for season-opening futility, starting off the year an NBA record 0-for-18. On the other hand, they managed to win an even dozen games by season’s end despite only four victories in the first 52 games–a mark even worse than the ’73 Sixers’. At least the Nets’ best player, center Brook Lopez, actually proved he was a cornerstone for the future, offering something most of the other teams on the list didn’t have: hope.
4 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks (11-71)
Like the ’97-98 Nuggets, the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks managed a measly 11-71 record. And like the Nuggets, the season was a disaster from the start. One star got suspended by the NBA for drug abuse; another got hurt and was never the same. The best player got traded, and the first-round pick hardly played. All of that added up to a start that would even have the ’73 Sixers shaking their heads: four wins in the first 61 games.
3 1997-98 Denver Nuggets (11-71)
What do bad teams have in common? Firing the coach and, apparently, 23-game losing streaks. The 1997-98 Denver squad managed to reach 11 wins, but it wasn’t enough to save Bill Hanzlik’s job after his squad posted losses for nearly a quarter of the season in a row. The Nuggets went into the season thinking they had a young team full of potential, but as it turned out, that statement was only half right. And not the good half.
2 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73)
The 1972-73 Philadelphia squad remains the only team to manage a single-digit win total over the course of a full NBA season. Unlike the Bobcats, though, the Sixers finished hot–or at least lukewarm–winning five of their last 31 games after winning only four of their first 51. And if the Bobcats’ best player was in the owner’s box, the Sixers took the opposite tack, there, too: They turned one of their players, Kevin Loughery, into the head coach before season’s end.
1 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats (7-59)
When the best player on the team is the owner, retired all-world star Michael Jordan, you know it’s going to be a long season. And even though it was a labor strife-shortened 66-game season for the 2011-12 Bobcats, it was still a long, long season. Even with a lack of talent on the roster, Charlotte had a chance to avoid making a history of the wrong kind, but they lost their last 23 games to edge the ’73 Sixers with a .106 winning percentage, worst in NBA history.