Which Teams Have the Longest Playoff Droughts in the NBA, NFL, and MLB?
Basketball’s regular season wraps up this weekend, which means that the Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz, and 18 other teams head to the NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, the Sacramento Kings head to the golf course, which is how their regular season invariably ends.
The Kings are so reliably bad that their last league championship came four cities and seven decades ago. If it is any consolation, at least Sacramento fans can say that their team’s streak of playoff futility isn’t the longest active streak of misses in the continent’s major sports.
NBA: The Sacramento Kings come up short again
Luke Walton is completing his second season, which might mean he is coming up on his expiration date as coach of the Kings. That’s not a reflection of his ability, but rather is the reality of coaching in Sacramento. Since Rick Adelman guided the Kings to their eighth straight playoff appearance in 2005, no Kings coach has made it past three full seasons. The team has gone through 10 head coaches with a.367 winning percentage in that time.
This will be the Kings’ 15th straight losing season and 15th consecutive year missing the NBA playoffs, the league’s longest streak. The best that can be said about them is that they have point guard De’Aaron Fox, shooting guard Buddy Hield, and forward Harrison Barnes locked into long-term contracts. If they can extend Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes beyond next season, the Kings’ future offers a reason for optimism.
In the meantime, the Kings continue to add to a championship drought dating to 1951, when they were the Rochester Royals.
MLB: The Seattle Mariners own the longest active drought
Major League Baseball hits the quarter pole this weekend, and the Mariners find themselves in what has become their usual situation this past decade. Floating around the .500 mark, they’re proving to be neither awful nor good enough to make a run at the title in the AL West, which might be the deepest division in baseball in 2021.
The Mariners’ last playoff appearance was in 2001, which means they have registered 19 straight postseason misses to outpace even the Kings. That is the longest active streak in all the major team sports.
That 2001 season was historic. Jamie Moyer led a rotation of four 15-game winners, Bret Boone slugged 37 home runs, and the Mariners won 116 games – the only time they’ve ever won more than 93. Alas, the year ended with a loss to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
NFL: The New York Jets are on the clock
Playing in a division with the New England Patriots has meant that the best the New York Jets have usually been able to hope for this century has been to qualify for the NFL playoffs via the wild-card route. That’s not going to happen for a team finishing fourth in the AFC East, which has been the case for the Jets five of the past seven seasons.
The Jets have missed the playoffs 10 straight seasons, the NFL’s longest active streak, under three head coaches. They’ll go into the 2021 season with a new coach (Robert Saleh) and a new quarterback (Zach Wilson) in a stacked division: The Buffalo Bills are the defending champions, the Miami Dolphins are racing through an impressive rebuild, and the Patriots are in no mood for their first back-to-back losing seasons since 1992-93.
By the way, the Jets’ decade-long absence matches the longest active futility streak by an NHL team. The Buffalo Sabres recently clinched their 10th straight miss and show the potential to out-do the Kings and Mariners down the road.