Michael Jordan may well be the greatest basketball player of all time, winning five MVP awards in the NBA and six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
But he’s also the owner of the worst NBA team ever.
Old No. 23 sat in his luxury box Thursday night watching his Charlotte Bobcats ironically absorb their 23rd consecutive loss.
That season-ending 104-84 setback to the New York Knicks hung the 7-59 Bobcats with the worst winning percentage in NBA history (.106).
For sheer ineptitude, the Bobcats edged out the previous worst team, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-73 (.110). All that stopped the Bobcats from surpassing the 76ers’ record for losses was the lockout mercifully shortening the season.
Jordan’s team ranked dead last in the NBA in scoring and shooting percentage and lost 22 games by 20 points or more.
In the annals of worst teams, they’ve lost their way to No. 1.
Here’s a look at some of our favorite all-time pro losers:
• PRO BASKETBALL: Prior to the Bobcats coming along, the ’72-73 76ers were clearly the worst, with losing streaks of 15, 20, 14 and 13 games.
The 76ers finished 59 games behind the first-place Boston Celtics in the Eastern Division after having their star from the previous year, Billy Cunningham, defect to the ABA.
The 76ers’ Web site states: “The team set the standard by which bad NBA teams will be judged for years to come.”
The Bobcats somehow managed to lower that bar.
• PRO BASEBALL: The 1899 Cleveland Spiders — the forerunners of the present-day Indians — may well be the worst pro sports team ever, going 20-134. Their owners from the previous season bought the St. Louis Browns and then traded every decent Spider to St. Louis before the 1899 season began.
Also horrible were the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117) and 1935 Boston Braves (38-115), who were so bad they drove a 40-year-old Babe Ruth into retirement after hitting just six home runs (still good enough got second-high on the team).
They all must have been epic-ally bad, but the 1962 Mets are the more modern standard for utter lousiness.
The Mets went 40-120 and had a pair of 20-game losers (Roger Craig, 10-24; Al Jackson, 8-20) and a relief pitcher (Craig Anderson, 3-17) who lost 16 straight. They also had first baseman “Marvelous” Marv Thornberry, who once chased a runner toward second base while the winning run scored from third. He also lost a triple when he neglected to touch first base. No wonder his fans wore T-shirts that said “Vram” (Marv spelled backwards).
The woeful 1962 Mets also had legendary Casey Stengel as manager, who once lamented about his team of bums: “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?”
The answer was no.
• PRO FOOTBALL: The Detroit Lions finished 0-18 in 2008, but at least they were occasionally competitive.
The 0-14 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 were the worst NFL team ever assembled. They lost by an average of 20 points per game and were shut out five times. They were so bad that it carried over into 1977 and they lost 12 more games before recording the franchise’s first win.
Not only did they lose, they lost ugly. Those orange Dreamsicle uniforms they wore were brutal. They did, however, have a fairly snazzy logo which bears a striking resemblance to one sported by a certain Division III college’s teams.
• PRO HOCKEY: The 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets went 0-for-November and December on their way to a memorable 9-57-4 mark in their second NHL season. Fans started calling them the Lose-ipeg Jets.
But worst NHL team? Try the 1974 Washington Capitals. They won eight games (8-67-5) while piling up 37 consecutive road losses and three different head coaches.
One of the trio, Tom McVie, said, “I’d rather find out that my wife was cheating on me than to have to keep losing like this. At least I could tell my wife to cut it out.”
So there they are, the best of the worst.
As columnist Jimmy Breslin once wrote of the 1962 Mets, “This is a team for the cab driver who gets held up in traffic and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn’t maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough ... losers, just like nearly everybody else in life.”