This series of articles will celebrate (or laugh at) some of the worst professional sports teams of all time. I will focus on teams within my lifetime so expect the worst from the 1970s to present day.
The one X-factor in sport in injuries. If a team can stay healthy, their chances of success improves greatly. However, if a team is besieged with injuries, then the chances of success are decreased substantially. The 2007-08 edition of the Miami Heat are true examples of how injuries can destroy a team.
After winning an NBA title in 2006, which was followed by a shocking first loss to the Chicago Bulls in 2007, the Heat were pegged as one of the preseason favourites to win the NBA Championship in 07-08. Instead they finished with the worst record in the association, posting a pathetic 15-67 record. This equalled the worst record in franchise history, set by the 1988-89 Heat, which was their first year in the league.
The Heat resembled a MASH unit, instead of a basketball team. Only Ricky Davis appeared in all 82 games for Miami. Injuries to Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal and Dorell Wright proved devastating for the Heat.
Wade was battling knee issues, which limited him to 51 games in the season. When he was on the court, Wade led the Heat, averaging 24.6 points per game. His absence was catastrophic for the Heat.
Haslem was limited to 49 games, as he battled a sprained ankle that just wouldn’t heal properly. The former Florida Gator did manage 12 points per game, but his ankle just wouldn’t cooperate, and was forced to shut down his season with two months to play.
The one and only Shaq was slowed by a bad back and a wonky toe. Coach Pat Riley accused the Big Aristotle of faking his injuries, which led to a confrontation between the big man and the coach with the slick backed hair. Shaq only appeared in 33 games until he was traded to Phoenix for Shawn Marion in February.
Mourning was supposed to give Miami a one-two punch down the middle with Shaq. However, Zo was sidelined with a torn patella tendon, which ultimately ended his career.
Wright battled numerous ailments throughout the 2007-08 season limiting him to 44 games. The forward averaged 7.9 points per game, and was ineffective for the most part of the season.
Point guard Jason Williams saw more playing time, but was inconsistent for the most part. The former Sacramento King averaged 8.8 points and 4.6 assists per game. While he could be spectacular, Williams was turnover prone and made many mental mistakes.
The Heat were so desperate, they signed Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway as a free agent. Hardaway had some great seasons with the Orlando Magic in the late 90s, but was a shadow of his former self. After just 16 games, where he averaged a paltry 3.8 points per game, Hardaway was released by Miami, and disappeared into oblivion with Little Penny.
The low point of the season occurred on March 19, when the Heat traveled north of the border to face the Toronto Raptors. The Heat were extremely short-handed, as only 7 players dressed for the game instead of the usual 12. The mounting injuries caught up to the Heat in this one. The Raptors simply destroyed the Heat 96-54, in an embarrassing performance for the Heat.
Before that awful performance, the Heat endured losing streaks of 15 and 11 games respectively. To say this team was abysmal is like saying they don’t wear lots of clothing on South Beach.
The Heat did rebound in following years. They made a big splash in 2010 by signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh as free agents, to play with Wade. They broke through in 2012 by winning the NBA Championship. From riches, to rags, to riches again, the Miami Heat do have a wild history. They would just rather forget 2007-08.
You can follow me on Twitter @jstar1973