Monday, February 7, 2011

Basketbawful Hall of Shame Inductee: The 2010-11 Cleveland Cadavers

"Sleep well, Cleveland. Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day..."
Dan Gilbert, July 2010

Let's flash back to last July:

I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.

Those were words of Dan Gilbert -- delivered in Comic Sans and presumably under the influence of heavy narcotics -- after LeBron James pulled a Hollywood Hogan on the city of Cleveland.

If Gilbert is right, if we really do have to die to get to heaven, then Saint Peter is waiting to welcome the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers Cadavers with open arms.

What a smelly, rotting corpse King Crab left behind. If the NBA was a crime drama, LeBron would have been arrested and held in connection to a national teamslaughter case. Seriously, for these Cadavers, every game is like a horror movie...every misadventure like a crime scene. Quite literally in some cases.

You want to talk about bawful? Mo Williams wanted to retire before the season even started. Dude was like a prophet. Now I bet he wish he had retired. Or gone into witness protection.

The historically bawful numbers swirling around this squad read like a particularly gruesome autopsy report. The Cadavers currently rank 30th in both Offensive and Defensive Rating. According to Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference, finishing dead last in those categories is an ultra-rare feat and would put the Cadavers in the most bawful of company.

What's more, the Cadavers have lost 34 of their last 35 games. Stop and think about that for a minutes: They have won only once in nearly half a season's worth of games. That one victory -- an overtime win against the Knicks -- was sandwiched between a 10-game losing streak and their current 24-game march to misery. Which, in case you missed it, just set the all-time record for consecutive losses in a single season.

This year's group of sadsacks are currently tied with the 1981-82 and 1982-83 Cleveland teams for the overall record for consecutive losses. But that streak ran between two seasons. The Cadavers play in Dallas tonight, so you can pretty much assume they'll soon find themselves in sole possession of the longest-ever losing streak, regardless of conditions or qualifications.

Clearly, this is the kind of think Basketbawful was founded for.

The Cadavers own the league's worst point differential at -11.4. Zach Lowe of The Point Forward provides some historical perspective on that number. As for present-day perspective, the next closest team is the Washintong Wizards General at -6.5. Appropriately, the Generals are setting their own records. As SBNation's Tom Ziller noted, their 0-25 road mark is "four losses away from tying the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks' record 0-29 road start. The records for consecutive road games lost during one season (37, by the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings) and overall (43 by that same team) remain in danger, and the Kings' 20-year-old record for worst road season -- 1-40 -- is in jeopardy."

You knew I was going to work the Sacramento Kings into this post, right?

During this 34-of-35 streak, the Cadavers have suffered 22 double-digit losses. They have lost by 27, 28 (twice), 29 (twice), 30, 34 and 55 points. There has been a recent uptick in their effort levels as coach Byron Scott and his players have been trying to stave off dubious history. To win, their last three defeats have been by five points (to the Pacers), seven points (to the Grizzlies) and six points (to the Frail Blazers). Still all losses though.

ESPN's John Hollinger dissected this Cleveland team with his standard stat geekery, providing even more historical context and dishonorable mentions, but concluded that they aren't likely to wind up as the worst team ever. (That sound you just heard was members of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers tinking champaign glasses together.)

No, the 2010-11 Cadavers probably won't become the official "Worst Team Ever." But they will become (or possibly already are) a cautionary tale, a scary bedtime story even, about a catastrophic implosion. No team in league history, and no city, has fallen so far after the departure of a superstar. Even the post-Jordan Bulls team that was coached by Tim Floyd and featured a Null-Star starting lineup of Toni Kukoc, Dickey Simpkins, Ron Harper, Cory Carr and Rusty LaRue was better than this year's Cadavers.

When will the losing stop? It's hard to say. As noted above, the Cadavers play in Dallas tonight before returning to Cleveland for an eight-game home stand versus the Pistons, Clippers, Generals, Lakers, Rockets, Knicks, 76ers and Spurs. Based on the effort they've been putting forth in the last three games, it's possible the Cadavers will beat the Pistons or Clippers. But if they don't, if they reach February 13 winless in their last 27 games, then they will play at home against a Washington team that is 0-25 on the road.

Did anybody else feel that tingle?

Depending on the outcome of the next several games, I may have to update this post to record this team's continuing self-destruction. But whatever else may happen, the 2010-11 Cadavers have earned a permanent spot in the Basketbawful Hall of Shame.

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