Worst Starts in NBA History

The 2009-10 Nets Set a New Record for Futility

With their 117-101 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on December 2, 2009, the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets fell to 0-18 on the season and set a new NBA record: worst start in league history. They finally got into the win column in their next game -- a 97-91 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

The expansion 1988-89 Miami Heat and strike-year 1999 Clippers both started their seasons with seventeen straight losses -- giving the three teams the unfortunate distinction of having the worst starts in NBA history.

2009-10 New Jersey Nets: 0-18

Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Trenton Hassell look on as the Nets lose their 17th straight game to s
Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and Trenton Hassell look on as the Nets lose their 17th straight game to start the 2009-10 season. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In the '09-'10 season, the then Jersey-based Nets were supposed to be bad, but not that bad. With the franchise in the midst of several transitions -- trying to re-make the roster for a run at LeBron James, complete a change in ownership and a move to Brooklyn -- the Nets had been trading established players for younger (cheaper) talent for years. Established veterans like Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were shipped out and replaced by unproven, injury-prone prospects. Injuries played a significant role in the brutal start; Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Yi Jianlian, among others, all missed significant time.

The Nets' record-setting 18th straight loss came at the hands of Kidd and the Mavericks.


1988-89 Miami Heat: 0-17

Miami center Rony Seikaly fights Laker guard Byron Scott for a rebound
Miami center Rony Seikaly fights Laker guard Byron Scott for a rebound. Mike Powell/Getty Images

The Miami Heat played their first NBA season in 1988-89, and like most expansion franchises, they were pretty bad. Led by a collection of has-beens and never-weres, the Heat lost their first-ever game to the Los Angeles Clippers on November 5, 1988, then went on to drop their next sixteen straight. The first win in franchise history came against those same Clippers on December 14th, by a score of 89-88.

Miami finished their inaugural season with a record of 15-67.

1999 Los Angeles Clippers: 0-17

Michael Olowokandi and David Stern
The Clippers selected Michael Olowokandi first overall in 1998 -- passing up future all-stars Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison and Rashard Lewis. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The 1999 Clippers didn't win their first game of the season until mid-March -- but it's not as bad as it sounds. Due to a labor dispute, the season started after Groundhog Day -- the Clippers' season-opener was on February 5.

That season also marked the debut for one of the worst draft picks in league history -- Michael Olowokandi, selected first overall by the Clippers -- and ahead of Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce -- in the 1998 NBA Draft. Olowokandi centered a painfully inexperienced squad -- four of the Clippers' top five scorers were under age 25; the lone exception was 28-year old three-point specialist Eric Piatkowski.

The Clippers finished the shortened season with a 9-41 record.