All streaks, good and bad, must come to an end. It was only a matter of time before the Philadelphia 76ers were going to win a game. Tuesday's 103-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers was Philadelphia's first win since March 25, a span of 251 days.
The 76ers' 28-game losing streak is the longest in U.S. pro sports history, and their 18 losses to start the season tied the 2009 New Jersey Nets' NBA record.
"Finally," 76ers forward Nerlens Noel said, summing up how any team must feel after ending a long drought. Here's a look at some of the reactions when other record-breaking losing streaks were snapped.
Longest single-season NBA losing streak: 26 games
Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-11): Everyone knew the Cavs would struggle after LeBron James' "Decision" to take his talents to South Beach, but they turned out to be historically bad. Ryan Hollins, who was a center for Cleveland when it lost 26 in a row, said he has been paying close attention the 76ers this season, not for sympathetic reasons but in the hopes Philly would "take that record off our hands."
"I don't wish ill intent on anybody," he said, "but I don't want to be known for that one."
Cleveland finally broke the streak Feb. 11, 2011, against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 126-119 win in overtime, but there wasn't a big celebration in the locker room after the game, Hollins recalled.
"It was more of a sigh of relief," he said. "I remember it got to a point where Herm Edwards was giving us a pep talk on ESPN. It got bad when it started to get national attention. We were just happy that was over."
Longest NFL losing streak: 26 games
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976-77): When John McKay took over the expansion Buccaneers, he didn't have the advantages recent expansion teams have had in the way of a salary cap, free agency and extra draft picks. When his team took the field for the first time, he knew it really had no business playing against NFL opponents.
"We didn't enter any games that first year thinking we were going to win," said J.K. McKay, a wide receiver for Tampa Bay from 1976 to 1978 and the coach's son. "I remember we played the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were one of the greatest teams of all time back then, and we had no chance. We lost 42-0, but it could have been whatever number they wanted."
Tampa Bay lost the first 26 games in franchise history, going 0-14 in its first season and starting its second season 0-12 before closing with two wins.
"We celebrated like we won the Super Bowl when we beat New Orleans," McKay said about the 33-14 victory that ended the record skid. "There were thousands of people at the airport and bands were playing. It was a party and the greatest relief of all time."
But it wasn't all smiles for the elder McKay, who died in 2001, even though he had started to turn the team around.
"The coach of that New Orleans team, Hank Stram, was a good friend of my dad's," McKay said. "They had gone to Purdue together. Well, after we beat New Orleans, Hank Stram gets fired. The next week we beat St. Louis, and they were coached by Don Coryell, who was another friend and an assistant at USC with my dad, and he got fired. My dad said, 'I can't afford to win any more games. All my guys are getting fired.'"
Longest NCAA football (FBS) losing streak: 34 games
Northwestern (1979-1982): After the Wildcats tied Kansas State's record of futility with their 28th consecutive loss, buttons that read "Stop State at 28" were handed out before Northwestern played Michigan State on Nov. 7, 1981. When Northwestern lost the game 61-14 to break the record, students stormed the field and tore down the goalposts.
"They took the goalposts to the president's house," said Willie Weinbaum, who was a student broadcaster calling that game for WNUR. "And then they threw it into Lake Michigan. After they finally broke the streak, they tore down the goalposts again, but they didn't take it anywhere."
The Wildcats finally broke the losing streak on Sept. 25, 1982, when they beat Northern Illinois 31-6. After the game, Northwestern coach Dennis Green said, "When I woke up this morning, I knew it was a special day." Two weeks later Northwestern won its first conference game since 1977, beating Minnesota 31-21. When Minnesota coach Joe Salem was asked what the win meant for the conference, he said, "It means we stink."
Longest MLB losing streak to start a season: 21 games
Baltimore Orioles (1988): Expectations were low for the Orioles after they lost 95 games in 1987, including 21 of their last 26, but nothing could have prepared Baltimore for how 1988 started. Manager Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after seven games and replaced by Frank Robinson, but the losses kept coming for 14 more games.
After the O's finally beat the Chicago White Sox 9-0 on April 29 for their first win of the season, the three cases of Champagne waiting in the Comiskey Park visiting clubhouse went mostly untouched by the players.
"It's a good feeling," Robinson said after the game. "We know the significance of it. That's the main thing. We knew we'd win sometime, but we didn't think it would take 22 games."
Longest modern MLB losing streak: 23 games
Philadelphia Phillies (1961): The Phillies ended their record streak by beating the Milwaukee Braves in the second game of an Aug. 20 doubleheader. "It was a good feeling in Milwaukee when we finally won," second baseman Tony Taylor told the Associated Press. "It was like we won the World Series."
The players weren't sure how they would be greeted when they returned to Philadelphia. Pitcher Frank Sullivan joked that they were selling rocks for $1.50 a bushel, "so we better get out in single file."
But 2,000 fans and a 300-piece band were there to celebrate the Phillies' streak-busting victory.
"We were hesitant to get off the plane," Taylor remembered. "But it was a good feeling. The band lifted [manager] Gene Mauch on their shoulders."