Most embarrassing sports teams of all time

Losing isn't fun and no one likes to do it. But there are some professional sports teams that have turned on-field humiliation into an art form and even carried that ineptitude into the daily lives of the players, coaches, and front office. The fans of these teams would prefer to block out these embarrassments, never to speak of them again. For the rest of us, though, it's a lot more fun to point and laugh.

2015-16 Los Angeles Lakers

The 2015-16 season was supposed to be a magical one for the Los Angeles Lakers. It was the last hurrah of Kobe Bryant, who had previously announced his retirement at the end of the year, following a long and storied career. They were coming off the worst season in the proud franchise's history, and would surely send one of their all-time greats out on a high note, right? Well, not exactly. Not only did Bryant, who was coming off of two injury-plagued seasons, have arguably his worst statistical year, but the Lakers one-upped the previous year's team and sank to even lower depths. The team finished 17-65, the worst record in franchise history, and were dead last in the Western Conference.

But it gets worse. After all, the Lakers are in Hollywood, right? That year, Los Angeles added rookie guard D'Angelo Russell to their lineup, and ... well, he didn't go about earning the trust of his teammates in a very intelligent manner. One of Russell's teammates, Nick Young, was engaged to Australian rapper Iggy Azalea at the time. Young — no stranger to embarrassing himself — was coaxed into talking about cheating on Azalea, by Russell. Bad enough, right? Oh, but it gets worse. It turned out that Russell — for whatever reason — was secretly recording the entire conversation, which was then "leaked" to the public. Social media and TMZ went nuts over it, and it led to Russell being basically frozen out by his teammates until, eventually, Young apparently forgave him.

2008 Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions have been a hard luck franchise for a very long time. One of the founding franchises of the NFL (when they were located in Portsmouth, Ohio, and called the Spartans), the Lions have an all-time record of just 551 wins, 654 losses, and 32 ties. Since 1970, Detroit fans have seen just 10 winning seasons. And in 2008, the Lions made history ... but not in the good way. A handful of teams have gone winless for an entire NFL season, but only one of those teams lost a whopping 16 games. That team, of course, is the Detroit Lions in 2008.

To add insult to injury, on top of already having a dismal record, the Lions actually had a few chances to pull out a win or two that season. Most notably was a week six showdown with the rival Minnesota Vikings, which was one of only six games in which the Lions kept the final margin to single digits. Detroit lost that game 12-10, and amazingly, it was the first score of the game that ultimately caused the team's utter humiliation. Early in the game, quarterback Dan Orlovsky found himself deep in his own territory and a relentless Vikings' defensive line came rushing at him. Orlovsky scrambled, trying to keep the play alive ... and unwittingly ran out of the back of his own endzone, resulting in a safety that put the Lions in a 2-0 hole to start the contest. Hey, remember that 2-point final margin? Oops. That's pretty much the epitome of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

2002-2003 Sunderland AFC

We'd be remiss to spend an entire list talking about embarrassing sports teams and not including a representative from the world-outside-of-the-USA's most popular sport. In the world of soccer (Football? Futbol? Kicky-kicky-ball-ball?), it doesn't get much better than playing in the English Premiere League. Even non-soccer fans have heard of franchises like Manchester United and Arsenal. Another team in the Premiership is Sunderland AFC, and let's just say the 2002-2003 was unkind to them. That year, Sunderland limped through the season to a record of four wins, seven draws, and 27 losses. They finished dead last in the EPL and were subsequently relegated. If you're not familiar with relegation, think of it this way: if the Philadelphia Sixers tanked a season, they wouldn't be rewarded with a high draft pick. Instead, they'd be sent packing to the D-League.

Anyway, that's embarrassing enough on its own. But Sunderland found one of the most excruciating ways imaginable to hand themselves a loss. Athletes and fans alike will often fail to give credit to the opposition in a loss, but this is one case in which that's absolutely true. See, when Sunderland tangled with Charlton on February 1, there were four goals scored in the game, all credited to Sunderland ... yet Charlton came out with a 3-1 victory. You can see where this is going. All three of Charlton's goals came off the feet of Sunderland players and all in the span of just seven minutes midway through the first half. Sunderland was never able to recover from the damage done by these so-called "own goals" — they were thoroughly owned, so to speak. But hey, good news: that one thoroughly embarrassing game means no one really remembers that the team was relegated that year after posting a thoroughly embarrassing record. Score! Oh, sorry. Poor choice of words.

2016-17 New York Knicks

Not all embarrassments in basketball are confined to the court. In this case, they aren't even confined to the players. To call the 2016-2017 season rough for the New York Knicks would be an understatement, and to say it's even close to resembling a normal year would just be a straight-up lie. The Knicks came into the season with high aspirations after signing former MVP point guard Derrick Rose to join veteran scorer Carmelo Anthony and young phenom Kristaps Porzingis. Things didn't exactly go to plan.

Never mind the disappointing record. Hell, let's even ignore that time Derrick Rose simply didn't show up to a game in January and chose not to tell anyone beforehand. We're even willing to look past the dust-up between owner James Dolan and former New York great and fan favorite Charles Oakley, when Dolan not only had Oakley ejected from Madison Square Garden, but then proceeded to ban him from MSG and accused him — with no actual evidence — of being both an alcoholic and having problems with his rage.

That's enough embarrassment for any sinking franchise, but the real humiliation came from Hall of Fame coach and Knicks team president Phil Jackson, who showed nothing but resentment and ill-will toward his star player, Carmelo Anthony, and a complete disinterest in doing his job. Jackson made it clear he wanted to get rid of Anthony, but due to Carmelo's no-trade clause, he couldn't. So the team president instead spent the season taking extremely thinly-veiled shots at his star player on social media and in interviews. It's a bizarre feud and a strange turn of events for the former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach (who played for the Knicks himself) to go full heel (to borrow a pro wrestling term).

2012 New York Jets

There's simply no way we could have a list of embarrassing teams and not include the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. We could remember the 2012 season as the year that the Jets brought in Tim Tebow or maybe as the season in which they went 0-4 in the preseason. It could also be recalled as just another year in which the Jets missed the playoffs, finishing the season with a bad — though not entirely horrible — record of 6-10.

Instead, we're going to focus on one moment from that season. One beautiful, glorious moment that basically sums up everything about the Jets over the past couple of decades. We're talking, naturally, about the butt fumble. It's a play that's gained so much infamy it has its own Wikipedia page, for God's sake. And we're not talking about a quick summary of the play — that page has 43 citations and more than 3,000 words written about that single, notorious play.

If you've somehow never seen the play in question, you're in for a real treat. Playing the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving — which also meant that a larger-than-usual audience was watching — Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez took a snap, turned the wrong way, and scrambled to get back to the line of scrimmage, colliding face-first with the backslide of one of his offensive linemen. The ball popped loose and Patriots defensive back Steve Gregory scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown.

We suppose there are more embarrassing things in football than being primarily remembered for smacking your face into a 300 pound man's rear and losing the ball for a defensive scoop-and-score, but frankly we're struggling to think of what they could be. Sorry, Mark Sanchez.

2005 Minnesota Vikings

A lot of professional athletes take some heat for what they do in their downtime. Who can forget the criticism Tony Romo received when he took a vacation to Mexico with Jessica Simpson the week before a Dallas Cowboys playoff game? Or that whole Banana Boat incident with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul? But at the end of the day, those stories have got absolutely nothing on what occurred during a bye week for the Minnesota Vikings in 2005.

In the spring of 2005, running back Onterrio Smith was caught at an airport with a Whizzinator, which is basically a fake penis that allows you to trick a drug test with clean urine. Smith set the tone for the year ahead. In October, in an incident that quickly became known as the Party Boat Scandal, four members of the Vikings were charged with things like lewd conduct and disorderly conduct after a group of players rented a charter boat and filled it with plenty of booze and strippers. And there was reportedly plenty of very public drunkenness and very public sex on the deck of this love boat. That this little cruise took place after the Vikings had started the season just 1-3 didn't help the public perception. That the game following their sexy excursion was a 28-3 loss to the Bears definitely didn't help, either.

1919 Boston Red Sox

We're going into the distant past in the Wayback Machine for this one, to a team most people are unfamiliar with. Not the franchise, of course, because everyone knows the Boston Red Sox. But when you think of embarrassing pro baseball teams from 1919, these are not the Sox you tend to think of. So what was so embarrassing about the 1919 Boston Red Sox, anyway?

Well, on the field, they didn't exactly have a stellar performance, finishing the year with a record of 66-71. And the Red Sox featured one of the biggest new stars of the game that season. A guy who batted .322 with 29 homers and 113 RBI, and who also posted a solid record of 9-5 on the mound, along with a 3.58 ERA. So naturally, the Red Sox immediately got rid of that player once the off season rolled around. And baseball fans know exactly who that player was, right?

The Boston Red Sox spent the offseason that year dealing away arguably the greatest player in baseball history: Babe Ruth. You all know about the Curse of the Bambino, a decades-long World Series drought for the Sox that only ended in 2004. The team that Ruth was sold to, by the way, was of course the New York Yankees, the hated rivals of the Red Sox and a team that would go on to become the most successful franchise in Major League Baseball history.

2009-10 Minnesota Timberwolves

Imagine, if you will, sitting on four first round draft picks. Now imagine if that year's draft class included All-Stars like Blake Griffin, James Harden, Steph Curry, DeMar Derozan, Jrue Holiday, and Jeff Teague. Now, obviously you're not going to be able to snag all of those guys. In the case of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Griffin and Harden were already off the board by the time they found themselves on the clock with the fifth and sixth picks. But then ... the inexplicable happens.

You take not one, not two, but three point guards in the first round ... and not one of them is named Steph Curry. The Timberwolves somehow managed to put together one of the most notoriously bad drafts in NBA history on that fateful night in 2009, selecting Ricky Rubio at number five, Jonny Flynn at number six, and Ty Lawson at number 18. They quickly traded away Lawson to the Denver Nuggets and then selected shooting guard Wayne Ellington with their final first round draft pick.

Only Rubio remains with the Timberwolves, with Flynn suffering a debilitating hip injury that derailed his career and sent him into basketball obscurity. The Lawson deal netted the Wolves a first round pick in 2010, which they spent on Luke Babbitt — a player who, if you ever knew who he was to begin with, has completely slipped your memory by now. He never played a second for Minnesota, and averaged single-digits per game in the 2016-2017 season for Miami — which is also where Ellington plays these days.

If you're wondering how the ensuing season panned out, the answer is ... not well. The Timberwolves followed up their dismal draft night with an even more dismal season, finishing with one of the worst records in the league at 15-67, and finished dead last in the Western Conference. What a waste.