Detroit Pistons among teams with longest losing streaks in sports – USA TODAY

It’s time for the Detroit Pistons to embrace history.
Tortured history.
History that welcomes owners of the longest losing streaks in sports.
Think Prairie View A&M football. Think Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Think about what might come next.
The Pistons’ 27-game losing streak set a new NBA single-season record, previously shared by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers. With two more defeats, the Pistons would break the NBA’s all-time longest skid of 28 losses, set by the 76ers over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
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On Thursday, the Pistons will play the Boston Celtics in Boston. The record-breaking 29th loss in a row could come Saturday in Detroit against the Toronto Raptors.
But for now, the rich history of losers deserves to be celebrated.
The 76ers had lost 21 games in a row when on Nov. 18, 2015, they found themselves huddled during a timeout in a game against the Indiana Pacers. Moments after breaking the huddle, the 76ers were assessed a technical foul.
Six players had walked onto the floor, a court violation.
The extra player added an extra layer of ineptitude for a team saddled with The Process (a.k.a. tanking).
The streak began March 27, 2015, with a 119-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and the 76ers strung together nine more losses to finish the 2014-15 season. They opened the following season with 18 consecutive defeats before the streak came to a merciful end on Dec. 1, 2015 with a 103-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Brett Brown, then the 76ers head coach, at one point during the skid said, “There is an art to learning how to win.”
The only thing the 76ers mastered was the art of losing.
It started innocently enough on Nov. 4, 1989, when the Prairie View A&M football team lost to Langston respectably enough, 19-18. Not much respectable transpired during the next 79 games. Prairie View A&M lost them all and may forever owns the longest losing streak in NCAA college football history.
The 80-game losing streak is almost twice as long as the runner-up, 44 games lost by Columbia between 1983 and 1988.
During the streak, Prairie View A&M, then a Division I-AA program, went through four coaches. The program also was shut out 19 times, outscored 3,408-626 (for an average margin of defeat of almost 35 points per game) and suffered more indignities off the field.
The school shut down all sports in 1990 amid a financial scandal in the athletics department and the football program faced allegations of using ineligible players.
Mercy arrived Sept. 26, 1998. That day Prairie View A&M beat Langston 14-12.
In an understatement almost as epic as the losing streak itself, Greg Johnson, then Prairie View’s A&M’s coach, said of the victory, “It was well overdue.”
Between 1942 and 1945, the NFL’s Chicago Cardinals lost 29 consecutive games. But the longest losing streak since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970 belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Which is our good fortune.
It offers a chance to recount quotes from John McKay, head coach when the Bucs lost 26 in a row over the course of the 1976 and 1977 seasons.
“Well, we didn’t block today,” McKay once said, “but we made up for it by not tackling.”
“Gentlemen, we can’t stop a pass or a run,” he said another time. “Otherwise, we’re in great shape.”
The on-field laughter and anguish began Sept. 12, 1976, when Tampa Bay played its first game in franchise history, a 20-0 loss to the Houston Oilers. The opening season ended with a 31-14 loss to the New England Patriots. How wretched did things get?
A 42-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers extended the slide to 13 games and, according to ESPN, after the game someone asked McKay if he was embarrassed by the loss.
“I was embarrassed before we came here,” the Bucs coach replied.
The embarrassment and the losing streak ended Dec. 11, 1977, when the Bucs defeated the New Orleans Saints, 33-14.
On July 29, 1961, Philadelphia Phillies manager Gene Mauch ordered Willie Mays to be intentionally walked, loading the bases for the San Francisco Giants in the first inning. Orlando Cepeda then stepped to the plate and hit a grand slam. The Giants won, 4-3.
Thus began the longest losing streak in Major League Baseball history since the American League joined the National League and formed the majors in 1901. During that 23-game streak, the Phillies were outscored 133-54, shut out four times and subjected to excruciation.
Eight times they lost by one run.
The streak ended Aug. 20, 1961 with a 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Braves. The winning pitcher was John Buzhardt.
“I had a feeling we were going to win,” Buzhardt told the Philadelphia Daily News after the game. “I said, ‘Get me two runs and I’ll win.’ It’s a good thing they got me seven.”
Ryan Malone, a rookie left winger with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2003-04, said that year, “You have to lose before you win, and we’re doing that.”
Lose, lose and lose Malone and the Penguins did – 18 times in a row – for longest losing streak in NHL history. The Buffalo Sabres matched the streak in 2021.
(The pre-overtime record is 17 losses in a row, set by the Washington Capitals in 1975 and the San Jose Sharks in 1993.)
En route to ignominy, the Penguins were outscored 83-40 during a skid that began Jan 13, 2004, with a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and ended Feb. 25, 2004, with a 4-3 overtime victory against the Phoenix Coyotes.
For their part, the Sabres gave up five goals a game over a stretch of five games. Their streak began Feb. 25, 2021, with a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils and ended April 1, 2021, with a 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
All those losses, piling up collectively between the 2003-04 Penguins and the 2020-21 Sabres.
“You learn from these times,” Malone, the former Penguins left winger, said during Pittsburgh’s skid.
What we learned is how bad those teams were.


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