While writing up the post about the 76ers’ run of success, something odd occurred to me. The record for most losses in a season is 73, set by the 1972-73 76ers. As you might notice, that means that their loss count matches the a year of their particularly putrid season. Per Basketball Reference, only one other team has done this: the expansion 1961-62 Chicago Packers. (Can you imagine having a team called the Packers in Chicago now? It’d be weird for a name to be shared by a city’s team and a rival of another team in that city, but I suppose that’s how it was for Brooklyn Dodgers fans in the 1940s and 1950s, and maybe for St. Louis fans when the NFC West heats up.)
That Packers team went 18-62, though BR says they were expected to finish at 21-59. The only player whose name I recognize is the recently deceased Walt Bellamy, who was a rookie that year. They only hung on in Chicago for one more year before moving to Baltimore. They also put up 111 points a game and gave up 119, because early 1960s basketball was pretty damned wild.
So, this is an exclusive club, if a little arbitrary–there are 4 other teams from the 20th century who lost more games than the corresponding year, and obviously every team from the 21st has lost more than the year. Still, it’s a set of 2 truly terrible teams, but the next member is presumably going to be one of the very best teams in the league in the next five years or so. The benchmark will only get more and more attainable, so club membership will rapidly devalue. Regardless, I can’t see the members of those two teams popping champagne like the 1972 Dolphins when the last team hits 14 losses this year–though it’d be hilarious if they did.