The Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on the wrong kind of history -- again.
Two seasons ago, the 76ers tied the NBA record with a 26-game losing streak. Last season they lost their first 17 games, "falling" one loss short of the record for worst start in an NBA season. They've lost their first 15 games this season, and that came after finishing the 2014-15 campaign on a 10-game losing streak. Philadelphia hasn't won a game in eight months.
That leaves the 76ers one defeat shy of the overall record for consecutive losses, a mark they can tie -- again -- on Wednesday against the Celtics in Boston. They also stand three losses short of the 2009 New Jersey Nets' record season-opening losing streak of 18 games.
"I think we've taught them how to compete," Philly coach Brett Brown said after his team lost 105-100 to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. "Now the next layer is we've got to teach them how to close out a game with a win."
If they don't learn soon, they'll enter the record books -- again. Here's a closer look at whom they are on the brink of joining in the annals of futility -- the teams with the longest major pro and college losing streaks.
NBA: 26 games
Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-11) and Philadelphia 76ers (2014): The season after LeBron James left Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach, the Cavaliers were simply awful. They tied the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak in major U.S. sports history and very nearly obliterated it. An overtime win over the New York Knicks on Dec. 18, 2010, was the Cavs' only victory over a 37-game span. On Feb. 11, Cleveland beat the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime to end the record skid. "I can smile again," Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson told reporters afterward. "It feels pretty good. Winning is a precious feeling." The 76ers matched the Cavs and the Bucs in 2013-14, when some accused Philadelphia of tanking in an effort to improve its draft position. During the losing streak, the 76ers lost by an average of 17.1 points; two losses were by more than 40 points. On March 30, Philadelphia finally won, routing the Detroit Pistons 123-98 to avoid taking over sole possession of the ignominious record. "It's not something I want to be a part of," 76ers guard Michael Carter-Williams said, "so it's great that we got this win."
NFL: 26 games
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976-77): By losing the first 26 games of their existence over two seasons, the orange-clad Buccaneers reached lows for an expansion team not seen before or since in any sport. The Yucs went 0-14 in their first year, losing by an average of 20 points per game. They started 0-12 the next year, including six shutout losses, before breaking through on the road with a 33-14 win over the New Orleans Saints. Before the game, Saints quarterback Archie Manning said it would be a disgrace to lose to Tampa Bay. The Bucs responded by picking off three Manning passes, forcing seven turnovers and scoring the game's first 26 points. "I can't wait to get into the dressing room so I can cry," said linebacker Richard Wood, who scored one of the Bucs' three defensive touchdowns. "A grown man ought not to cry out here in front of these people." Thousands of fans greeted the Buccaneers when they returned home. Tampa Bay also beat the St. Louis Cardinals the next week, the season finale, for its first home win.
MLB: 23 games
Philadelphia Phillies (1961): On July 28, the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in the second game of a doubleheader. They wouldn't win again for 22 days while setting a modern-era MLB record. (The Louisville Colonels hold the all-time record with 26 consecutive losses.) Philadelphia's streak finally ended Aug. 20 when it beat the Braves in Milwaukee in the second game of a doubleheader. "It felt like we won the World Series," Phillies second baseman Tony Taylor told The Associated Press decades later. When the Phillies landed at the Philadelphia airport after the victory in Milwaukee, a 300-piece band and 2,000 fans were there to greet them. "We were hesitant to get off the plane," Taylor remembered. "But it was a good feeling. The band lifted [manager] Gene Mauch on their shoulders." Not surprisingly, the Phillies (47-107) finished last in the National League, 46 games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds, and last in home attendance (590,039; 7,662 fans per game). Two other Philadelphia MLB teams also suffered through significant losing streaks: The 1916 and 1943 Philadelphia Athletics each lost 20 consecutive games, tied for the seventh-worst streaks in MLB history.
NHL: 17 games
Washington Capitals (1975) and San Jose Sharks (1993): The Capitals' historic run of futility came in their 1974-75 expansion season, when they won just eight games, a record low for an NHL season of at least 70 games. Their late-season skid ended with a 5-3 win over the California Golden Seals (a franchise that later moved to Cleveland and then folded) on March 28. It was Washington's only road win that season. The Sharks matched the Capitals' skid in 1992-93, their second season of existence, when they had three streaks of at least 13 losses in a row. After tying the record with a 6-0 loss at Edmonton, San Jose beat the Jets 3-2 in Winnipeg on Valentine's Day of 1993. Had the Sharks lost instead of tying against the Vancouver Canucks the game before the streak started, they would have lost 20 consecutive games. (The 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets had the NHL's longest winless streak at 30 games -- 23 losses and seven ties.)
NCAA football (FBS): 34 games
Northwestern (1979-82): After the Wildcats suffered a 61-14 drubbing at home against Michigan State in 1981, their big-college record 29th consecutive loss, fans celebrated by tearing down the goalposts and marching through Evanston, Illinois, shouting "We're the worst!" After winning its second game in 1979, Northwestern would wait three seasons for its next win. Some of the Wildcats' defeats were lopsided, especially against Ohio State, which defeated Northwestern 63-0 in 1980 and 70-6 in 1981. After an 0-3 start in 1982, the Wildcats finally snapped their losing streak with a 31-6 win at home over Northern Illinois on Sept. 25. With 34 seconds left, fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts, which later were thrown into Lake Michigan. "When I woke up this morning, I knew it was a special day," said Northwestern coach Dennis Green, who was carried on the shoulders of his players to the locker room after the win.
NCAA men's basketball (Division I): 41 games
Towson (2011-12): In the midst of a skid that spanned two seasons and lasted the entire 2011 calendar year, Towson's coach admitted things looked hopeless. "At times I feel like this team is in the middle of a forest," Pat Skerry told The New York Times, "and the only way we're going to find our way out is if the forest burns down." Towson's record string of defeats, which covered the last 19 games of the 2010-11 season and the first 22 games of 2011-12, came by a combined 675 points (a 16.5-point average). On Jan. 12, 2012, the streak finally ended at home before 881 fans when the Tigers defeated UNC-Wilmington 66-61. New Jersey Institute of Technology lost 51 consecutive games from 2007 to 2009, but that streak isn't considered the record because NJIT was transitioning to Division I.