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Philadelphia 76ers Get Their First Win, Avoid NBA Record

The Philadelphia 76ers are off to a really, really bad start, but thanks to Wednesday night's victory over Minnesota, it's not the worst start in NBA history.

After opening the season with 17 consecutive losses, the Sixers beat the Timberwolves 85-77 in Minneapolis for their first win. The record for most losses to start a season is 18, set by the 2009-10 New Jersey Nets.

It was a welcome change for the Sixers. Michael Carter-Williams, who had 20 points in the victory, said, "For me personally, I think it's a big relief off my chest."

Any 0-17 start is bound to attract attention, but in the case of Philadelphia, it's not exactly surprising. The team is coming off a horrendous 19-63 season that included 26 consecutive losses, tying an NBA record. And being bad seems to be part of the plan, at least for now. In November, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski appeared on Only A Game and explained the strategy.

"The philosophy is that the only way to win — or the best and most likely way to succeed in the NBA — is to acquire as many superstar players as possible. The best  and most direct way to do that is to be as bad as possible so that you can hopefully procure the No. 1 pick in the draft and draft a superstar. Or, failing that, collect a very high draft pick and draft a superstar. And if you do that long enough you will collect players who will go on to become superstars."

Longtime 76ers fans have been down this road before. The 1972-73 squad finished 9-73, the lowest win total for a complete 82-game season. If the current team stays on its current pace, they'll set the bar even lower with four or five wins.

Author Charley Rosen chronicled the Sixers' '72-73 season in his new book "Perfectly Awful." Rosen told Only A Game the members of that team don't want another team to be worse because they like their place in history.

"Strangely, most of the guys I spoke to ... wanted to be the worst team of all time. It was something that defined them, that made people talk about them. As I’m sure is happening in Philadelphia now — I’m sure they’re talking about that team."

According to the old saying, any publicity is good publicity, but the 2014-15 Sixers might be pushing it.

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Doug Tribou Twitter Reporter/Producer
Doug Tribou was formerly a reporter and producer at WBUR and for WBUR's Only A Game.

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