Sunday, January 24, 2010
This Just In: The Nets Really Suck
3 and 40. 3 and 40? How the hell did they ever win 3? The New Jersey Nets are threatening the record for futility in the NBA having lost 40 games before they won 4. With a robust .070 winning percentage, the Nets certainly have the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers jumping for joy that their 9-73 record might be "bested" this year. However, the NBA is very different in this day and age. If the Nets don't get to at least 10 wins, then it will be pretty apparent that they have just given up.
The 1972-73 Sixers, or the "9 and 73ers" as they were known, suffered from a myriad of problems which led to their miserable record. Several years earlier they had traded away Wilt Chamberlain for three bums and were going nowhere with an aging team. Couple that with the fact that their best player Billy Cunningham left at the end of the 1971-72 season and now you've got a real problem. The Sixers started out 0-15 and didn't look back. Even after firing their coach, the Sixers still coasted to a 9-73 record and ended up an NBA record 59 games out of first place.
The New Jersey Nets shouldn't be anywhere near as bad as those Sixers. Despite the departure of players, the biggest problem facing the Sixers was the fact that the league was only 16 teams back then. Therefore, if you had a shitty team like the Sixers, you had to play against better concentrations of talent than you would today. Now the NBA is 30 teams and the talent level is much more diluted. The Nets are not going up against powerhouses every night like the Sixers were. As a matter of fact, the Nets closest geographic opponent, the Knicks, just got beaten by 50 points today. The Nets should be able to pick off some wins against the lower tier teams in the NBA and eclipse the 9 win mark in the second half of the season. If not though, it will sure be fun to watch.
Having grown up watching some terrible Sixers teams, I know what it is like to see a group of total losers. I remember about 15 years ago, Sixers coach Johnny Lucas said he would shave his head if they won 10 games. Before long, this is probably similar to what the Nets coach will have to resort to as well. Despite the dilution of the league, the relative talent of the players on the Nets, and the youth of the team, it appears that the Nets players have just given up on the season.
I still think the Nets will muster up the effort to win 7 more games, but it is not going to be easy. Nobody wants to be the team that loses to the 3-40 team, so each team will be giving its all every night against New Jersey. The next 39 games will be a true litmus test to see if the Nets have totally given up on the season or not. I for one am hoping they have, so that the 9 and 73ers are stricken from the record books for good.