"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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Blogger chris said...
Considering that there isn't a Blake Griffin in this year's draft, what do Northeast Ohio fans have to look forward to, in terms of Association-related activity, for the next 3-4 decades?

Maybe I'm overstating it, but King Crab was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

How many franchises can survive this much losing anyway? The Purple Paupers did...briefly...but are back to being who we all knew they were.

Blogger Will said...
Does anyone else picture Rusty LaRue having a beautiful handlebar mustache?

Blogger chris said...
Clearly, the folks over there are dealing with this very well.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Cleveland tanking to draft Jimmer.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Do you really think they're tanking, AnacondaHL?

Blogger chris said...
Why would one tank AFTER the great drafts of the decade have been over?

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Because his name is Jimmer!

(Serious time: no, Jimmer isn't top 4 pick, yes the Cavs are essentially tanking, combined with their injury woes and mental health. If we don't expect the Heat to win this year, and maybe a lockout randomness next year, the Cavs have to aim for 2012 to make Comic Dan's prophecy come true. Tank and slingshot, their best option.)

Blogger chris said...
The 2006-07 Celtics have proven though that tanking CAN only go so far. Basically, that franchise only is where it is now because Kevin McHale soured Minnesota for Angry KG.

Anonymous JJ said...
I don't want to wish bad fortune on anyone. Yet, a part of me really, REALLY wants Cavs to keep losing so we can have a showdown between loss-streaking Cavs vs road-winless Wizards.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I feel terrible for the Cavs, I really do. But on behalf of the early 1990s Mavericks, I have to thank them (and the Wizards) for their epic display of terrible this season.

Hopefully the Cavs can regroup and start anew next season. I'd wish they could for the rest of this season, but I think that ship sailed a long time ago.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
And the 1996-97 Spurs showed that tanking can go more than far enough. So what? There's plenty of examples of it working out, and honestly with the way the past 2 CBAs were, dropping a season to rebound has better chances then stuck mediocrity, via talent to salary ratio.

Anonymous Angry Canuck said...
I feel bad for Joey Graham

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"You can take it to the bank."
What??? No Steven Seagal reference???

Blogger chris said...
AnacondaHL: It's still a matter of luck even if you're guaranteed the "best chance" at 1st overall - the Kings after all have played horrific save for Tyreke's rookie year, and they at one point had that "best shot" and didn't get the pick.

Plus, was that really tanking, or David Robinson's injury having such a huge impact on the team?

Anonymous Marc d. said...
Joey Graham's a bum. I feel bad for Anthony Parker. I hope that was sarcasm.

Anonymous Stevester said...
Sorry to jump in Chris,

But aren't the Kings future competitive prospects much better off since they gave up on grinding out 30 win seasons with the Artest/Miller/Salmons nucleus and gave them away for basically nothing?

Sure, they've gotten no lottery love and missed out on Griffin and Wall, but Cousins and Tyreke have intermittently looked like they could be top 3/4 guys on a top 4 seed, and was it really better in the long run trying to scrape every win in the post-Webber era and drafting guys like Shock and Hawes instead?

Anonymous The Unknown Miner said...
As a Cavs fan, I'll tell you this: we are not tanking (really, we're not). We're just that bad. I can't help but feel like the small bastion of devoted fans left is being forced to do penance for 7 years of shameless bandwagoners doting on King Nothing.

Blogger draftaraujo said...
Hypothetical question, say there is a lockout next year, and the season is lost NHL style, how does the draft work that year if there are not any games played?

Anonymous kazam92 said...
I mentioned this before, but their "best" player Jamison is retiring after this year. Wants to spend time with his kids (ihaveplayedonshittyteamsmostofmycareer)

Anonymous EuroGuy said...
Just imagine being the next top prospect going to Cleveland. As if the task of reviving the Cadavers isn't hard enough, you would have to do it in a city and a franchise that is haunted by the Shadow of King James.

Blogger chris said...
Stevester: Well, winning sells tickets; tanking doesn't, and five years without a winning record has taken its toll on the fanbase (especially when 'Reke was supposed to have led them to 8th-seed contention this year).

EuroGuy: That may actually help, in that unless that person is as good as King Crab, they won't be expected to pull a repeat of The Indigestion.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
draftaraujo - The draft occurs in June 2011, probably on the 23rd, prior to the July 1st, 2011 CBA expiration date, therefore a draft will still be held. After the date, there is no CBA, therefore no Rookie scale for contracts, and no rookies could have actually signed a contract. Because of this pointlessness, the owners could lockout the players prior to the draft, which would cancel the draft this year.

If the whole season is lost, the rookies, as well as every other NBA player with a guaranteed contract, get no money (minus legal protections).

If the lockout continues, there's no CBA still to define a draft, and the 2012 and beyond drafts do not occur until a new CBA is agreed upon.

Anonymous EuroGuy said...
@chris: That would be the silver lining. But on the other hand a top draft pick will always have some expectations to live up to, and it will take a lot of talent just to get a winning record with the current team. So my guess is, there's no real comfort zone. At least for a couple of years.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I feel bad for Cleveland, they definitely did not deserve this. If you trace it back, this is all a result of the summer of 2005 when Cleveland had cap space and used it to re-sign Big Z for 5 years and $50 million and to sign then free agent Larry Hughes for 5 years and $70 million. Those two signings right there sealed Cleveland's fate, as they were never able to get free of those awful deals until last summer, and by then it was too late. But given that horrendous hole they dug for themselves in 2005, Cleveland really did do everything they could to try to make that team around LeBron the best it could be.

This isn't a team like the Isiah Knicks or the current Pistons that have systematically run themselves into the ground and now deserve to reap what they sowed. This is a team that made one really awful signing and one very questionable signing 6 years ago, and has had the whole franchise collapse as a result. What team out there hasn't made a really bad signing or two at some point in the last decade? Cleveland doesn't deserve this, so I have a hard time enjoying them being so bad.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Personally I do not feel the least bit sorry for these second tier players on the Cavaliers. Things aren't so hot for them now that they've been thrust into the spotlight and actually have to do something. They can no longer hide behind their Lebron security blanket.

No, I don't feel bad for them. Not after all their years of preening and celebrating before and during the thrashings they would deal their opponents when they had their big brother Lebron leading the way. Without their superstar they have now been exposed for the choking embarrassments that they, and everyone else knew, they were. I hope they lose every game for the rest of the season.

Hey maybe they can join together in these next couple of weeks, just like old times, and come up with a well thought-out choreographed dance. You know, to commemorate their upcoming history making record braking losing streak. What a performance that would be! And what a season they have accomplished this year! You are right Dan Gilbert, who needs Lebron?! Especially when you have a team full of spineless, hapless, skill-less second tier misfits to fill the crater King James left behind. Go Cleveland!

Anonymous The Unknown Miner said...
I vote for the humpty dance, personally.

Blogger Promoman said...
The Cavaliers were swerved by LeBron. He had them fire a former COY in Mike Brown and one of the best front office execs in Danny Ferry by pretending that those moves would make him stay in Cleveland. They were so fooled that they didn't have a backup plan in place. They aren't that bad on paper but after the first loss to the Heat, they shut down. The Nets gutted themselves to a lesser extent by banking on a megastar that never came.

Anonymous Angry Canuck said...
Marcd: Such passion for Anthony Parker and against Joey Graham I never would have expected! How do you feel about Nate Huffman?