Can The Tulsa Shock Become The Worst Pro Basketball Team Ever?

Last night, the Tulsa Shock lost to the Seattle Storm, 74-57. It was their 20th consecutive defeat. Like UConn as it closed in on UCLA's record college-basketball winning streak, the WNBA team is within reach of the longest losing streak in NBA history, 26 games, set by the 2010-11 New Jersey Nets Cleveland Cavaliers.

If the Shock keep losing—their record stands at 1-25—they would tie the Nets' Cavs' mark against the Phoenix Mercury on Sept. 8 and break it against the Los Angeles Sparks on Sept. 9.

Tulsa's current winning percentage of .038 is lower than the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers' mark of .110, the worst in NBA history. The Shock would have to win 3 of their remaining 8 games to be better than the Sixers.


The Shock's single win so far this season came 39 days ago, on June 18, when they defeated the Washington Mystics 77-59 at home in front of a crowd of 4,400. Since they moved to Tulsa from Detroit two seasons ago, the franchise record is 7-53.

It does not get much worse than this.


The hero of the Shock's miserable season, by my measure, is their indefatigable team reporter, Danielle Parker, who has written game story after game story through this singularly bleak stretch of basketball history. The Shock have lost their 25 games by an average margin of about 15 points—the high being a 39-point blow-out against the Phoenix Mercury on July 10. On July 15, seven games into the streak, they gave up an 18-point lead to the L.A. Sparks and lost. Just over a month later, they gave up a 15-point lead to the same team for their WNBA-record-breaking 18th consecutive loss. Each time, Parker has found something to say.

I don't know if we should consider this a skill, but I can say from personal experience that it is a rather miserable task. When you're writing for a losing team—never mind if it's your own team—you start to look at the box score differently. You're not looking for notable stats in any traditional sense; you're looking for stats that might make the bleakest picture a little brighter.

"Statistically, the Tulsa Shock played one of its best games of the season," you might write (possibly through gritted teeth and shame). That they lost anyway, 94-82, must be mentioned but not dwelled upon. The PR writer's job is not like the local beat reporter's job, who can level jokes and criticism and get away with it; the PR writer must act like everything is going to be fine, and we'll get 'em next time. She must include coach quotes like "They hear us coming" to open a story on another loss and another blown lead. When there's nothing good to say, you just have to say something.

May 29: Shock 70, Storm 76 (Preseason Game)

After falling behind big in the first quarter, the Shock were unable to recover as they fell to the Seattle Storm in their first and only pre-season game of the 2011 season, 76-70 at Key Arena.

Notable sad number: The Shock's starting center and two forwards were a combined 2-for-18 from the floor.

June 4: Shock 73, Silver Stars 93

After jumping ahead early in the game, the Shock fell behind big at the end of the first quarter and San Antonio was able to sustain the lead, defeating the Shock, 93-73, in the 2011 season opener.

Record: 0-1
Notable sad number: Tulsa had 28 turnovers to San Antonio's 15.

June 7: Shock 65, Lynx 75

The Shock's second game of the 2011 season very closely mirrored the first one as the team fell behind big early, fought back late, but still fell short, losing its second game of the young season, 75-65, to the Minnesota Lynx.

Record: 0-2
Notable sad number: The Shock scored just eight points in the first quarter.

June 10: Shock 62, Silver Stars 93

Roneeka Hodges scored 19 points to lead five San Antonio players in double figures, and the Silver Stars cruised to a 93-62 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Friday night.

Record: 0-3
Notable sad number: It was a 31-point loss.

June 12: Shock 79, Sun 90

Shock Improving But Still Fall to Sun, 90-79
Career games from point guard Ivory Latta and rookie Kayla Pedersen weren't enough to propel the Shock to their first win of the season as they fell to the Connecticut Sun, 90-79, at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Record: 0-4
Notable sad number: The Shock had just two team rebounds in the loss.

June 14: Shock 74, Fever 82

A 16-7 run by the Fever to finish the game omitted a 67-66 Shock lead late in the fourth quarter as Tulsa fell to Indiana, 82-74, at Conseco Fieldhouse tonight.

Record: 0-5
Notable sad number: This game had 12 lead changes and seven ties, and still ended in a loss for Tulsa.

June 18: Shock 77, Mystics 59

A strong performance in the second half and smart defensive play gave the Tulsa Shock its first win of the season over the Washington Mystics, 77-59, June 18. Facing off against the Washington Mystics, who came in 1-3 for the season, the Shock scored 51 of its points in the second half to secure an 18-point victory, the largest margin of victory for the team since moving to Tulsa.

Record: 1-5
Notable sad number: Their only win of the season came against a 1-4 team. The Mystics now have the second-worst record in the league, at 5-21.

June 21: Shock 77, Storm 82

Shock Fall to Storm After Leading By 15 in First Half
The Tulsa Shock has been fighting to put to rest a habit of coming out with a weak first half then fighting to recover in the second. In their June 21 game against the 2010 defending WNBA champions Seattle Storm, they handily overcame that problem, but it was finishing the game that the team struggled with this time around, falling to the Storm 82-77.

Record: 1-6
Notable sad number: The Shock blew a 15-point lead.

June 23: Shock 82, Liberty 94

Statistically, the Tulsa Shock played one of its best games of the season against the New York Liberty June 23. They scored more points in one game than they have all season long. They had their best field goal percentage of the year. Rookies Elizabeth Cambage and Kayla Pedersen both had recording-breaking games. Yet in the end, the Liberty would be the ones to close it out, 94-82.

Record: 1-7
Notable sad thing: "They scored more points in one game than they have all season long."

June 26: Shock 63, Mysics 83

Crystal Langhorne scored 23 points, Nicky Anosike added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the Washington Mystics snapped a four-game losing streak with an 83-63 win over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday. Matee Ajavon added 21 points and four steals for the Mystics (2-5), who got their first home win this season and avenged an 18-point loss at Tulsa eight days ago.

Record: 1-8
Notable sad number: Against a team that had been allowing opponents to shoot 50 percent from the field, Tulsa shot 35.3 percent from the field.

June 30: Shock 71, Lynx 101
Shock Lose to Lynx For Second Time in 2011

The Tulsa Shock and Minnesota Lynx both came into their June 30 meeting with hopes of breaking a losing-streak. Tulsa had loss three consecutive games; Minnesota had two. After 40 minutes of play, it was the Lynx that walked away with the 101-71 win.

Record: 1-9
Notable sad number: The Shock turned the ball over 27 times and lost by 30 points.

July 8: Shock 78, Mercury 86

Eight days of rest and a new starting line-up was just what the Tulsa Shock (1-10) needed as they headed into back-to-back games against the Phoenix Mercury (7-4). Tulsa looked like a completely different team than the team that fell to the Minnesota Lynx, June 30. Nonetheless a tough third quarter would extend the Shock's losing streak to five, as the Mercury won 86-78.

Record: 1-10
Notable sad number: Tulsa shot 3 for 27 (11.1 percent) from the three-point line.

July 10: [Head Coach Nolan] Richardson Steps Down, Edwards Named Interim Coach

Last night following the Shock's game against Phoenix co-owner David Box met with Coach Nolan Richardson at which time it was determined it was in the best interest of the team and organization for the General Manager/Coach to step down and turn over coaching responsibilities on an interim basis to Teresa Edwards, the Director of Player Personnel for the team.

Record: Still 1-10
Notable sad thing: "While the record may not bear it out today," Edwards said, "[Richardson] is a winner in every aspect both as a coach and a citizen." [I should note that I worked with Edwards during the 2008 Olympics and even got to play some pick-up basketball with her. She did not respond to a request for comment on this post.]

July 10: Shock 63, Mercury 102

Shock Lose to Mercury For Second Time in Three Days
The Phoenix Mercury set a league record by opening the game with 11 consecutive fields goals and never looked back, defeating the Shock, 102-63, at US Airways Center on Sunday. The Mercury finished the first quarter with a 36-9 lead by shooting 15-of-17 from the field including 5-of-5 from three while holding the Shock to just 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) from the field. The 102 points given up and the 39-point margin of defeat were both season highs for the Shock.

Record: 1-11
Notable sad number: Tulsa lost by a margin of 39 points. They scored nine points in the first quarter.

July 13: Shock 54, Sky 72

WNBA scoring leader Sylvia Fowles had 21 points, and the Chicago Sky beat Tulsa 72-54 on Wednesday. Fowles, now averaging 20.4 points per game, added 13 rebounds in front of a franchise record crowd announced at 13,838 at Allstate Arena. The loss was the seventh straight for the Shock (1-12) and second for interim coach Teresa Edwards, who took over July 9 after Nolan Richardson's resignation.

Record: 1-12
Notable sad number: Tulsa's starters were a combined 10 for 40 from the field.

July 15: Shock 74, Sparks 79

Shock Fall To Sparks Despite Holding 18-Point Lead

"They hear us coming."

Those were the words Tulsa Shock's (1-13) interim coach Teresa Edwards encouraged her team with, after losing an 18-point lead and falling to the Los Angeles Sparks (6-6), 79-74. The Shock started out with a strong overall game, offensively and defensively. The Sparks jumped out to an early 11-4 lead, but the Shock quickly recovered to finish the first quarter with a 23-21.

Record: 1-13
Notable sad thing: "They hear us coming."

July 17: Shock 57, Liberty 88

Cappie Pondexter's grandmother had some simple advice for her: Take over the game. The New York Liberty star listened and helped her team bounce back from a disappointing loss. Pondexter scored 18 points, Essence Carson had 17 and New York cruised to a 88-57 victory over the Tulsa Shock on Sunday.

Record: 1-14
Notable sad thing: The Shock's best player, Ivory Latta, was sidelined once again by a staph infection.

July 26: Shock 68, Dream 76

July 26 was a big game for the Tulsa Shock. The night began by honoring Sheryl Swoopes, who was recently named one of the Top 15 WNBA Players of All Time. Swoopes would go on to pull down her 1,500th rebound of her career... The game was also big for the Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry, who scored 37 of the Dream's 76 points... Her contribution on the court led Atlanta to its fourth-consecutive win, 76-68 over Tulsa.

Record: 1-15
Notable sad thing: "We're learning," Coach Edwards said after the game.

July 28: Shock 55, Sky 64

For a year, Sylvia Fowles played big sister and mentor to Abi Olajuwon. They faced off again Thursday night, with Fowles and the Chicago Sky staving off a late surge to hand the Tulsa Shock their 11th straight loss with a 64-55 victory.

Record: 1-16
Notable sad thing: Kevin Durant was courtside.

July 30: Shock 72, Storm 89

Sue Bird rebounded from a miserable night with her best one of the season. Bird scored a season-high 29 points and the Seattle Storm handed the Tulsa Shock their 12th straight loss with an 89-72 victory Saturday night.

Record: 1-17
Notable sad number: Tulsa's biggest lead: 1. Seattle's biggest lead: 18.

August 5: Shock 65, Fever 85

The Indiana Fever got a balanced effort from their starters and reserves and cruised to an easy win against the struggling Tulsa Shock. Jessica Davenport scored 17 points, Tamika Catchings had 15, and the Fever rolled to their fifth straight win, 85-65 victory Friday night, handing the Shock their franchise record-tying 13th straight loss.

Record: 1-18
Notable sad number: According to the game report, the Shock were now 0-5 in afternoon games and 1-13 in night games.

August 6: Shock 64, Silver Stars 72

Young's aggressive play helped the San Antonio Silver Stars end their three-game skid while sending the Tulsa Shock to a franchise-record 14th straight loss.

Record: 1-19
Notable sad thing: "That's one of the most positive games we've put together,'' [Coach] Edwards said. "We still had a lot of turnovers." They had 26 turnovers.

August 9: Shock 66, Sparks 71

Ticha Penicheiro scored a season-high 23 points and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Shock 71-66 on Tuesday night, handing Tulsa its 15th straight loss.

Record: 1-20
Notable sad number: For the second straight game, the Shock lost by less than 10 points.

August 11: Shock 63, Storm 77

Struggling as they have been during a long stretch of road games, Camille Little and the Seattle Storm were happy to be back home Thursday night—and they played like it. Little scored a season-high 19 points, and Seattle led from the start in a 77-63 win over Tulsa, handing the Shock their 16th straight loss.

Record: 1-21
Notable sad number: Tulsa's starting five was a combined 5 for 26 from the field.

August 14: Shock 54, Lynx 82

Seimone Augustus scored 16 points and the Minnesota Lynx handed the Tulsa Shock their WNBA record-tying 17th straight loss with an 82-54 victory. In a matchup of the teams with the best and worst records in the league, the Lynx (18-5) won their 11th in 12 games, while Tulsa fell to 1-22.

Record: 1-22
Notable sad thing to try: "The Shock will try to avoid setting a new record for consecutive losses when they face the Los Angeles Sparks at home next Sunday. Tulsa is tied with the Atlanta Dream, who lost the first 17 games of their inaugural 2008 season."

August 21: Shock 67, Sparks 73

Sparks Hand Shock Record 18th Loss in a Row

The Tulsa Shock headed into its Aug. 21 game against the Los Angeles, tied with the longest consecutive losing streak for a season in the history of the WNBA. In danger of breaking that record, the team was determined to win this game, and if there was anyone the Shock could take it was L.A... The Shock led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but would be outscored and outrebounded in the second half, to fall to the Los Angeles Sparks, 73-67.

Record: 1-23
Notable sad thing to be unsuccessful at: The Shock blew a 15-point lead in their attempt to not hold the worst losing streak in WNBA history.

August 23: Shock 72, Lynx 78

The Tulsa Shock have talked a lot about playing the entire 40 minutes this season, and that is exactly what they did against the league-leading Minnesota Lynx, Aug. 23. The Lynx were able to pull away late with a 78-72 victory, however, Shock players were feeling extremely positive about the game. Tulsa's only win this season came on June 18, 77-59 against Washington.

Record: 1-24
Notable admirable thing for Danielle Parker to write: "...however, Shock players were feeling extremely positive about the game."

August 25: Shock 57, Storm 74

[Lauren] Jackson had nine of her 14 points in the third quarter to help lead the Storm past the Tulsa Shock 74-57 Thursday night for Seattle's third straight win since her return from a hip injury... "We're warriors, we're fighting but it's a test of character for us,'' Tulsa coach Teresa Edwards said. "We have a lot of young ladies with a lot of pride.''

Record: 1-25
Notable sad thing: The season continues.

The Shock have eight games remaining, including one tonight against Los Angeles. We'll keep up with them in their ongoing attempt to not become the worst pro basketball team ever.