The Miami Heat's winning streak has ended at 27 games, and while that's bad news for those who hoped this year's squad would equal the 33-game mark of the 1971-72 Lakers, perhaps it's good news for Miami. After all, the longer a streak runs, the more it starts to swallow everything around it. And when the streak ends, the release and letdown can add a couple extra Ls onto a team's record ... not the kind of problem you want to have in the postseason. Consider how other teams with record streaks fared once their string snapped:
NBA: After the Lakers' 33-game streak ended, Los Angeles lost four of its next six games. All ended well, however; Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and the rest of the Lakers won the NBA championship that year.
Baseball: The 1935 Chicago Cubs are a prime example of what can happen when you string together a long winning streak too close to the end of the season. They won a still-record 21 games in a row, but lost the next two, which happened to be the final two games of the regular season. They would go on to lose the World Series (there were no intraleague playoffs) to the Tigers, 4-2. (The New York Giants of 1916 had a longer stretch, 26 games, but that included a tie.)
NFL: The longest regular-season winning streak in NFL history belongs to the Indianapolis Colts, who won 23 games across the 2008 and 2009 seasons. At the end of 2009, at 14-0, the Colts decided to rest their starters for the playoffs. It didn't pay off; while they lost their last two regular-season games, they also lost in the Super Bowl to the Saints.
NHL: The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins won 17 straight games (outright wins, not "unbeaten games") at the end of the season; the streak snapped when they tied the New Jersey Devils in the season's final game. The Penguins' season would end shortly afterward as they lost in seven games to the Islanders in the second round of the playoffs.
College football: The Oklahoma Sooners won 47 straight games from 1953 to 1957. During that time, the Sooners won two national championships and five Big Seven conference championships. In 1957, the loss to Notre Dame was the team's only black mark of the year. While Oklahoma would go 10-1 in 1958, it would be another decade before they'd finish a season with just one loss again.
College basketball (men's): UCLA won 74 straight regular-season games, part of an overall 88-game winning streak, from 1971 to 1974. During that period, UCLA won three national championships. However, the team lost in early 1974 (it was again Notre Dame that was the streak-breaker), and while UCLA would storm back into the Final Four, it would lose to NC State before reaching the championship game. A third-place finish, in the Coach John Wooden era, was a catastrophic underachievement.
College basketball (women's): UConn's women's team won 71 straight regular-season games as part of their 90-game winning streak, which ran from 2008 to 2010. During that time, the team notched two national championships. After Stanford snapped the streak, UConn would lose another game and fall in the Final Four ... to, you guessed it, Notre Dame.
So there you have it. The end of the streak came at the right time for the Heat. With 11 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, here's enough time for the inevitable letdown and necessary regrouping before the postseason. And fortunately for Miami, they probably won't meet Notre Dame in the playoffs.
- Sports & Recreation
- Miami Heat