Looking Back on the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers

Looking Back on the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers
April 27, 2012, 9:06 am
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As AU pointed out in last night's postgamer, the Charlotte Bobcats dished out not one, but two assists to the Sixers Thursday.

First, their 104-84 loss at the hands of the seventh-seeded New York Knicks ensured that the Sixers will not have to play the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Second, that loss also means that the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers — the worst team in NBA history — are no longer the worst team in NBA history.
Charlotte's 7-59 record (.106 winning percentage) is just barely worse than the the '73 team's 9-73 (.109). True, CSNPhilly's John Finger -- and the Bobcats fans who weren't wearing  teal and purple last night -- will argue that Charlotte's new "honor" isn't quite the same because it wasn't played in an 82-game season and that this compressed track meet of a year perhaps exacerbated the team's problems, but Kevin Loughery still thinks these Bobcats are worse than his Sixers.
Loughery, you might know, actually started the year as a player on that Sixers team, only to retire and immediately take over as head coach in the middle of the season, leading the team to a 5-26 finish. He said of the Bobcats earlier this week:

"Talent-wise, they might be the worst team ever," Kevin Loughery, who coached the 76ers during the second half of their Keystone Kops-like campaign, said of the Bobcats. "We had more talent than they did."

Though, in fairness, we'll point that Loughery goes on to reference how the league's talent pool has been diluted by a larger number of teams and players and that the Bobcats were, as he says, "playing with a lot of 10-day contract players" toward the end of the season. He even jokes that maybe the league should put an asterisk next to the record, considering the aforementioned impact of the lockout.

Oddly enough, some Sixers might genuinely be hoping for that. Multiple members of that team, including (the best player on the worst team in history) Fred "Mad Dog" Carter and that team's other head coach, Roy Rubin, are protective of their mark. In an article from FoxSportsFlorida, from which Loughery's above comments come, Rubin's wife says that the coach is in agreement with Carter's stance that the record not be broken, with both men citing the desire to be remembered for something. 
While some will scoff, this isn't a position that's all together unfathomable. After all, there were cheers at Citizens Bank Park on that day in 2007 when the Phillies became the first team in professional sports to lose 10,000 games. Having the worst team in professional basketball history was for a long time just another part of this city's sporting lore. Plus, it's not as if our city is unfamiliar with self-deprecation.
Oh, we should also point out that the team's record (obviously) earned it the No. 1 pick in the 1973 NBA Draft, which the franchise parlayed into both an All-Star and a future coach.
Anyhow, congratulations to the players on the '73 team who are happy to be rid of the record. As for Loughery, Rubin and Carter, we offer this new reason to remember them:

How miserable did it get when Rubin was coaching the team?

On Dec. 29, 1972, with the 76ers 3-30 and on their way to a 141-113 loss at Detroit, Rubin was ready to substitute for [forward John] Trapp, who was from Detroit and is now deceased. Trapp wasn't too happy about that so he told Rubin to look up into the stands. One of Trapp's buddies opened up his coat and exposed a gun

Yes, Trapp stayed in the game.

Loughery said he doesn't know that story. But Fred Carter, a guard who led the 76ers in scoring that season with a 20.0 average, has insisted it's true.

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