Did the Lakers just have the worst season in their history?

The Lakers have already been eliminated from the play-off race for not even entering the play-in tournament, and completely ruined their season when they had title ambitions a few months ago. A monumental failure that leaves us asking the question: What if it was simply the worst campaign in the history of the legendary California franchise?

“Worst”: Comparison of bad. Worse, more defective, more harmful.

The definition is pretty clear and we all know what the word “worse” means, but everyone can interpret it differently. Even more in the field of sports and the NBA. When we talk about the “worst season” in a franchise’s history, some may just stop at the balance sheet. You know, the ones who say “the numbers don’t lie” and worship Daryl Morey. For this category of people, the ranking below is enough to top off Los Angeles’ magnificent 2015-16 campaign, which saw the Lakers’ lowest win rate ever.

The 15 worst records in Lakers history:

  • 17 wins – 65 losses (20.7% win) in 2015-16
  • 21 wins – 61 losses (25.6%) in 2014-15
  • 19 wins – 53 losses (26.4%) in 1957-58
  • 26 wins – 56 losses (31.7%) in 2016-17
  • 27 wins – 55 losses (32.9%) in 2013-14
  • 25 wins – 50 losses (33.3%) in 1959-1960*
  • 30 wins – 52 losses (36.6%) in 1974-75
  • 31 wins – 48 losses (39.2%) in 2021-22
  • 33 wins – 49 losses (40.2%) in 1993-94
  • 34 wins – 48 losses (41.5%) in 2004-05
  • 36 wins – 45 losses (44.4%) in 1966-67*
  • 37 wins – 45 losses (45.1%) in 2018-19
  • 36 wins – 43 losses (45.6%) in 1960-61*
  • 33 wins – 39 losses (45.8%) in 1958-1959*
  • 33 wins – 39 losses (45.8%) in 1955-56**

* qualifier for the Play-offs
** NBA Finals Qualifiers

But here we like to take context into account before jumping to conclusions. Because if the balance is of course important to judge the success or rather the failure of a season, it does not have the same meaning according to the expectations that may surround the latter. So with us, we will define “worse” based on the result/expectation ratio† And at this level, the 2021-22 version of the Lakers did very, very well.

We won’t get back to the full run of the Lakers’ catastrophic season, but before the resumption last October, some were still talking about 70 wins (hello Kendrick Perkins) and many were already betting on an NBA Finals between the Los franchise. Angeles and the Brooklyn Nets. Not necessarily surprising for a team with five or even six future Hall of Famers that includes LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo. By the way, we also plead guilty as we had in our hexpert costume announcing a regular on 57 wins with second place in the West at the end. The rest, we all know it. The Westbrook fit alongside LeBron and AD never worked, the latter two spent quite a bit of time in infirmary, the Lakers never really found a balance, the franchise looked more like a retirement home than a basketball team, and the defeats—sometimes humiliating—continued. just pile up. We can also point the finger at coach Frank Vogel for his inability to maximize his group despite basketball’s adversity and choices over boss Rob Pelinka since the 2020 title. All that to say it’s a failure by all means, with the Western favorites Lakers moving to 11th place in the Conference, synonymous with a Playoff knockout.† Yes, the team that had to crush everything in its path after a short adjustment period will not even participate in the play-in tournament, a sentence that was just unimaginable a few months ago.

Putting ourselves in the shoes of a Lakers fan, and this is arguably the best way to judge if this season is the worst in the history of the California franchise, there’s reason to temporarily dislike it. of basketball that was shot this year. When you go into the season with title dreams for your favorite team, and behind it turns into a fiasco with all the drama that normally comes with the City of Angels, you only think of one thing: that ending. Every game has turned into torture at the end of the season. Each defeat has become a source of ridicule on the networks. Every night was filled with nightmares. And it wasn’t LeBron’s performance at 37 Brooms that would boost morale, even if it was the little ray of sunshine in the general misery. So admittedly, this isn’t the first time an LA super team has fallen short of expectations. We had already given a booster shot before the start of the 2021-22 campaign. highlighting the failures of the 2004 and 2013 Lakers version† But when we talk about failure for these teams, we’re talking about a loss in the NBA Finals for the first and a first-round elimination from the Playoffs for the second after Kobe Bryant’s major Achilles tendon injury. Not the same madness.

“We have reached rock bottom. Of all the seasons I’ve seen as a Laker. †

– James Worthy last February, after a humiliating loss to Portland

Has a Lakers team ever been so disappointed in history?

If you look at the Lakers’ long history, you’re not sure if a team has caused as much disappointment and frustration as it has this year. Admittedly, as we can see above, there have been less good versions purely from an accounting point of view. In particular, we’re thinking of the Lakers of the past decade, the worst ever for the California franchise with six straight seasons without playoffs and four of the five worst records ever. 27, 21, 17 and 26 wins between 2013 and 2017, hello loser† But it was the end of Kobe’s career with a losing physique, it was the era when the big five of the Lakers could have included Vander Blue, Jabari Brown, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Tarik Black. The period was very dark, except that unlike this year, the Los Angeles fans had no illusions about their team’s chances, even though there were still some who thought the trio D’Angelo Russell – Jordan Clarkson – Julius Randle was going to flip the franchise. Holy time.

An era followed by the arrival of LeBron James in 2019, came to support youngsters Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma who had managed to restore some dynamism to the California franchise. Expectations were high and just like this season it changed at the circus with a very disappointing final record of 37 wins – 45 losses (no qualifying in Play-offs). The difference from 2021-22 is that the workforce was nowhere near as hyped and we were only in the King’s first year in the City of Angels. So it wasn’t so much about the NBA title, you see, we wanted to see what it would be like.

Other dark seasons in Lakers modern history include: the 2004-05 season, the first without Shaquille O’Neal and who completed a run of ten consecutive seasons in the Playoffs with four NBA Finals and three league titles. Shaq’s departure left a huge void in LA and Kobe realized how difficult it could be to survive in the Western Conference without his nemesis. The Lakers’ poor campaign, notably marked by a coach change related to Rudy Tomjanovich’s health issues, had dealt a major blow to the minds of these caviar-accustomed California fans. However, Shaq’s departure marked the end of the dynasty and no one expected Los Angeles to play for the title that year.

Speaking of a fading dynasty, the early 1990s was marked by the last vestiges of the Showtime era. The 1991 finals against the Bulls were followed by a rapid decline, symbolized by Magic Johnson’s chilling announcement of his HIV status in November of that year – a real earthquake – and the very bad 1993-94 season. At the end, the Lakers missed the Playoffs (just 34 wins) for the first time since the mid-1970s, all with an inconclusive Magic in his new coaching suit for the final games of the season. In short, many Lakers fans logically have bad memories of this time, yet it is not really disappointment that characterizes it.

If we go much further back, we must add the 1974-75 and 1957-58 campaigns in the Lakers’ worst season of all time category. Of course, that’s all still a long way off and it’s hard to describe the feeling that there was in those two years, but they have one thing in common: each time the franchise paid for the departure of a Hall of Famer. Jerry West in 1974, George Mikan in the second half of the 50’s. Spoiler, if you lose a Hall of Famer, the results often suffer from waiting for someone to take over. So we are talking about more than two transition periods after many years of success. And a fun anecdote, West and Mikan both became Lakers coaches after their playing careers. The difference is that the former helped the franchise find its way, while the latter sat on the bench during the early part of the horrendous 1957-58 season (the one with just 19 wins).

Everyone will judge on their own criteria, but for us the 2021-22 season ticks all the boxes to be recognized as the worst in Lakers history. Because when the hype is this big and then the failure so bitter, we get into the Hall of Shame pretty quickly.

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