Hello, raise a chair, the time has come to talk a little about the Sacramento Kings from 1992-93.
On the surface, there isn’t much to get excited about. They had Mitch Richmond, who was great, at least until he suffered a broken thumb that ended the season, and his starting base was a former 5’7 “slam dunk champion, but that was it.
Upon reaching that season, they had been among the NBA feces for a while. They were the only team that lost more than 50 games each of the previous six years, and had not won a playoff game since they had a losing record until the Western Conference Finals of 1981.
So the Kings were a bad team, but for a period of time, about a week and change, this bad team dominated more than any other bad team had before, more than any other average team had before. More than any great team. had before, more than any team ever had before.
When the ’92 -93 season began under the new coach Garry St. Jean, it was initially more of the same: through 24 games, they emerged victorious in only a third of them, and that was coming back to back – the squeakers OT to even win that a lot. Then they comfortably beat a pretty good Celtics team before things got really, really weird.
Before December 29, 1992, there were 28,806 regular season games in NBA history, of which 12 ended up with one team beating another by at least 55 points. In other words, about 1 in 2,400 games. If you feel like squinting, here is that probability visually represented in green (it is probably necessary to click):
Then, on that lovely afternoon on Tuesday, the basketball gods gave us game # 13 with a double cent margin when they killed the Dallas Mavericks. For 58 points. They beat them to a bloody pulp beyond any recognition. Now, granted, this was a Mavericks squad that was not as good as its record might suggest. His record was 2-20. I can’t deny it, they were so spectacularly bad that they could justify their own Dorktown content someday. But in no way does his ineptitude rule out a 58-point hit. After all, all the NBA teams played against those putrid Mavs several times, and that game remains an atypical case:
The Kings never gave in, dominating every second of this matter. It was one of only 10 games in NBA history in which a team beat its opponent by at least 15 points in three different quarters (only three of which have come in the next 27 years, again, just talking about the regular season, shout at anyone who potentially remembers Nugs-Hornies). How about that beautiful room in which the Kings did not absolutely compete with the Mavs? I was close? Dallas maybe even, I dare to say, won the fourth? No, the kings still surpassed them by eight.
It’s okay. Blowouts of that magnitude occur extremely rarely, but still occur. Important disarray, especially executed by a team as humble as the Kings, but occasionally there are rare random points on the radar in sports. They surely enjoyed their New Year when the calendar turned to 1993 and went on to their next game against Philadelphia on January 2.
Do you remember that slice of green cake that is actually more like a cake needle? Well, the Kings put their hands back in the haystack and exceeded all rational odds. again He emerged with that needle in his hands. This time, an obliteration of 56 points over the 76ers.
It was so bad that Philly allowed Walt Williams to score 40 points from the bank, just the second set of 40 points from a rookie pool. Make it look even worse? Not only did Williams never reach 40 points in any of his other 707 NBA career games, but he never scored 40 in any of his 105 college games in Maryland, none of his games at Crossland in high school (where any player from the NBA would be a superduperstar), or any other game he has played in his entire life.
For those who score at home, that is a two-game outing of the Kings scoring 293 points and allowing only 179. That 114-point differential smokes the package, with the Suns of 89 as a distant second place and the only team that adds a point. differential between consecutive games that even reaches 20 of what the Kings had just done:
With their margin of victory exceeding 55 in both, they also eliminate the field since the next highest margin reached in each of the consecutive games was those Suns in 46:
Breaking it in half, Sacramento recorded a point differential of at least +28 in three of the four:
To date, 18 of the other 29 NBA teams have never won a single game for more than 55 in their entire existence. The Kings, an unfortunate franchise, succeeded in consecutive games.
We can even extend our sample with equally surprising results. This two-game main course was preceded and triumphed by strong victories: a 16-point victory over Boston referred to earlier was the appetizer, and a 20-point blowout over Denver was dessert. That is +150 more than absurd during that period of 4 games:
But let’s go back to the consecutive for a second: if we move away and take a look at the entire history of the NBA during the 2018-19 season, there were 60,231 other games of the regular season, of which one team beat another in minus 55 points in 17 of them. Or 1 in 3,543. That means that the probability of any random NBA team doing so in two straight games is 1 in 12,552,849. For some perspective, here are some hypothetical sporting events that would have been plus probable:
• Alex Smith throwing an interception in four consecutive pass attempts.
• Drew Brees throwing an incomplete in 14 consecutive pass attempts
• Blake Bortles throwing a touchdown on five consecutive pass attempts
• Emmitt Smith failed to score a touchdown on 431 consecutive carries
• Peyton Manning fails to pitch for a touchdown in 276 consecutive pass attempts
• Peja Stojakovic, the best foul shooter in the history of the Kings, losing seven consecutive free throws
• Steph Curry, the best three-point shooter in basketball history, 28 consecutive three-pointers missing
• Shaq makes 25 consecutive free throws
• LeBron James retained for less than 20 points in nine consecutive games
• Giannis Antetokounmpo is missing five consecutive dumps
• Manu Ginobili killing two bats in a game, probably
• Randy Johnson allowing hits to 10 consecutive hitters.
• Nolan Ryan could not register a punch to 56 consecutive hitters
• Babe Ruth is left homeless for 234 consecutive appearances on the plate
• Babe Ruth home run in six consecutive plate appearances
• Bill Bergen, he of .170 fame in his career, receiving a hit in nine consecutive at-bats
And that would be for a average the team succeeded, but it cannot be stressed enough: this was achieved by a team that had been terrible for years … and this season was no exception! In the other 78 games that Sacramento played in 1992-93, they lost 73% of them and were surpassed by more than 400 points.
It would be ridiculous to imagine that even an outstanding team would run like this; that a horrible team has done it makes it one of the most disconcerting things in the history of organized athletics. The life lesson here is obvious: don’t work hard to be great, always trust to stumble at random with unprecedented success.