New Jersey Nets may become worst NBA team ever

It has been a frustrating season for New Jersey Nets players, including Brook Lopez, left, and Courtney Lee.
It has been a frustrating season for New Jersey Nets players, including Brook Lopez, left, and Courtney Lee. (Eric Gay/associated Press)
By Fred Bowen
Thursday, January 28, 2010

This National Basketball Association season may be one for the history books, because the New Jersey Nets have a chance to be the worst NBA team ever.

The Nets, who had a record of 3 wins and 40 losses (3-40) going into last night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers, are on pace to be even worse than the woeful 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who posted a 9-73 mark.

The Nets may set the worst-ever mark because they are really bad. The Nets are the lowest-scoring team in the league, averaging about 90 points a game; that's 20 points a game less than the league's highest-scoring team, the Phoenix Suns. The Nets are also the worst-shooting team, hitting 42 percent of their shots and 28 percent of their three-point shots. Oh, yeah, they stink at rebounding and defense, too. Maybe that's why they lose by an average of 13 points a game.

The Nets have one very good, young player in 21-year-old Brook Lopez. The 7-foot center is scoring 19 points a game and grabbing on average more than nine rebounds. But besides Lopez, the Nets don't have much. They started the season by losing their first 18 games and haven't gotten much better since.

Of course, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers were really bad, too. The 76ers had won the NBA championship in 1967. But all their stars from that championship season, including Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain, guard Hal Greer and high-scoring forwards Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham, were long gone by 1972.

That year, the 76ers' best player was a guard named Fred Carter, who scored 20 points a game. But Carter took too many crazy shots and committed too many turnovers. Maybe that is why his nickname was "Mad Dog."

The 76ers lost their first 15 games and were only 4-39 after 43 games. Still, that's one game better than this year's Nets. But then the 76ers lost their next 19 games and their record stood at 4-58.

Incredibly, the 76ers won five out of seven games during a two-week stretch in February to raise their record to 9-60. Then they fell apart and lost their final 13 games.

Maybe the Nets can grab a few more wins during the remainder of the long NBA season. They might beat teams that have slipped out of the playoff race and don't care much about winning. For example, the Nets have a chance for a rare victory Friday night when they host our slumping Washington Wizards (14-30).

If the Nets don't win at least 10 games this season, they will become part of NBA history. But in a way that they never wanted to be.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of 11 kids' sports books including "Touchdown Trouble" and "Soccer Team Upset."

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