That was close
A mid-February basketball game between two moribund NBA teams would not normally be of interest to the football-crazed denizens of Bucpower. However, this past Friday night a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers almost saw a franchise-defining record of the Buccaneers come to an end.
Earlier in the week, on February 9, the Cleveland Cavaliers, beset by the defection of LeBron James and injuries to the few NBA-worthy players on their roster, lost to the Detroit Pistons 103-94 at the Quicken Loans Arena in beautiful (my opinion) downtown Cleveland.
Of interest to Buccaneer fans, the loss was the Cavaliers 26th consecutive defeat, continuing their NBA record of setbacks. Does that number sound familiar?
The Cavs loss tied the professional sports record of 26 consecutive defeats held for 34 years by the 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Think about that for a moment.
The one record associated with the Bucs that many thought could never be equaled has been so. In fact, on this past Friday night the Cavaliers almost did the heretofore unthinkable by breaking the record with a 27th straight defeat. However, the Cavs scrapped out a 126-119 overtime victory over the Clippers before only the heartiest of basketball fans on the shores of Lake Erie. The victory was the first for the Cavaliers since December 18!
In the entire history of professional sports, no team had ever lost as many games in a row as the 1976-1977 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One would think that just through pure mathematics, a hockey, basketball or baseball team would have taken this record. The NBA and NHL play 82 game seasons while MLB has 162.
With all of those games scheduled and with the disparity between the haves and have-nots in the NBA and MLB especially, it is almost unfathomable that some other team hasn’t wrested this albatross from the Bucs.
Previously, the closest a team had come was also the Cavaliers, who had a 24 game losing streak overlap the 1981/1982 and 1982/1983 seasons. If you’re interested, the 1992-1993 San Jose Sharks and 1974-1975 Washington Capitals share the NHL record with 17 consecutive losses. The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies hold the MLB record with 23 straight losses in 1961 although the 1988 Baltimore Orioles are better known for losing the first 21 games of that season.
For the briefest of moments Friday night as I sat transfixed in my den watching the NBA equivalent of the Monty Python “Upper Class Twit of the Year” competition, I thought the baton might be passed from the original Bucs to these woeful Cavs. I admit I had, and still have, conflicting emotions.
I’m not a big basketball fan, but I do care a great deal for my adopted hometown so I was pulling for the Cavs to win so Cleveland wouldn’t have an amazing losing streak added to all the other sports baggage the community carries.
I’m also a proud Buccaneer fan who embraces the history of this franchise, warts and all. I have a perverse pride in that streak because it is a permanent reminder of everything the players, coaches and fans of this franchise have overcome.
For lifelong Bucs fans, would the Super Bowl title have been quite as sweet without the streak? It is a debatable point, but in my mind the answer is no, the 0-26 beginning made the trip to the mountain top much more rewarding.
That kind of introspection is moot now as the Cavaliers acted out the role of a blind squirrel getting an acorn on Friday. While the 26-game losing streak is no longer the sole property of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they still have custody rights.
The question is, when the day finally comes that some unfortunate team does lose a 27th straight game, how will you feel about it?
Denis Crawford, February 2011