The expansion 1988-89 Miami Heat and strike-year 1999 Clippers both started their seasons with seventeen straight losses.
We all knew the Nets would be bad, but not THIS bad. With the franchise in the midst of several transitions -- trying to re-make the roster for a run at LeBron James, complete a change in ownership and a move to Brooklyn -- the Nets have been trading established players for younger (cheaper) talent for years. Established veterans like Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter were shipped out and replaced by unproven, injury-prone prospects. Injuries played a significant role in the brutal start; Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Yi Jianlian, among others, all missed significant time.
The Nets' record-setting 18th straight loss came at the hands of Kidd and the Mavericks
The Miami Heat played their first NBA season in 1988-89, and like most expansion franchises, they were pretty bad. Led by a collection of has-beens and never-weres, the Heat lost their first-ever game to the Los Angeles Clippers on November 5, 1988, then went on to drop their next sixteen straight. The first win in franchise history came against those same Clippers on December 14th, by a score of 89-88.
Miami finished their inaugural season with a record of 15-67.
The 1999 Clippers didn't win their first game of the season until mid-March... but it's not as bad as it sounds. Due to a labor dispute, the season started after Groundhog Day -- the Clippers' season-opener was on February 5.
That season also marked the debut for one of the worst draft picks in league history -- Michael Olowokandi, selected first overall by the Clippers -- and ahead of Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce -- in the 1998 NBA Draft. Olowokandi centered a painfully inexperienced squad -- four of the Clippers' top five scorers were under age 25; the lone exception was 28-year old three-point specialist Eric Piatkowski.
The Clippers finished the shortened season with a 9-41 record.