Kings clinch! Which team now has the longest postseason drought?


The Sacramento beam will have a chance to shine in the postseason.

The Kings celebrated each win of the regular season by lighting a purple victory beam from atop Golden 1 Center. It illuminated the Sacramento sky much more frequently than originally anticipated.

Those beam-lighting wins added up to give the Kings their first playoff berth since 2006, which was secured Wednesday when they beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-80. That will bring an end to what was the longest active postseason drought in the United States' four main professional sports.

The team inherited that postseason-less title last October when the Seattle Mariners qualified for the Major League Baseball playoffs, ending their 21-season drought. The Kings weren't expected to end their drought so soon, having won just 30 games last year. They entered the 2022-2023 season with a projected win total of 34.5 games, per PointsBet, NBC's official sports betting partner. 

But the moves made in recent years by general manager Monte McNair have paid immediate dividends. De'Aaron Fox, in the second season of a five-year, $163 million maximum extension signed in 2020, produced a season that might garner MVP votes. Domantas Sabonis, acquired in a somewhat surprising trade with the Indiana Pacers for Tyrese Haliburton in February 2022, proved to be the perfect offensive big to complement Fox. Mike Brown, whose head coaching resume has peaks and valleys, was hired last May and is now the favorite for Coach of the Year. 

The roster was filled out with astute draft picks (Keegan Murray, Davion Mitchell), free agent signings (Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk) and addition-by-subtraction deals (Marvin Bagley III) to power one of the most surprising turnarounds in franchise history. 

Now they will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, with Game 1 of that series marking the Kings' first postseason game since May 5, 2006 when Mike Bibby and company lost to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the first round. 

Tip off of that game will signify the official end of the longest postseason drought in NBA history. 

So, which professional sports team now holds the dubious distinction of having the longest active playoff drought? 

Here's the longest active drought in each of the four main sports leagues. 

Which NFL team has the longest playoff drought?

New York Jets - 12 seasons

Last playoff game: Jan. 23, 2011 (Pittsburgh Steelers 24, New York Jets 19 - AFC Championship Game)

This might explain why the Jets are checking items off of Aaron Rodgers' wish list. Trading for the future Hall of Fame quarterback could be the streak-stopping solution for a team that last played in a playoff game when Mark Sanchez was quarterback during the 2010 season. The streak seemed on its way to being stopped last season when the Jets jumped out to a 5-2 record, but they lost the last six games of the season amid quarterback issues to keep the streak alive. 

Which NHL team has the longest playoff drought?

Buffalo Sabres - 11 seasons

Last playoff game: April 18, 2011 (Philadelphia Flyers 5, Buffalo Sabres 2 - Game 7, Quarterfinals)

The Sabres, still with 10 more games to play this season, are on pace to have their most regular season victories since 2011-2012 when they won 39 games. But it might not be enough to bring an end to their NHL record postseason drought, which is on the verge of extending to 12 seasons. They set the league record after the 2022 season, breaking the previous mark of 10 set by the Florida Panthers in 2012 and Edmonton Oilers in 2017. 

Which MLB team has the longest playoff drought?

Los Angeles Angels - 8 seasons

Last playoff game: Oct. 5, 2014 (Kansas City Royals 8, Los Angeles Angels 3 - Game 3, ALDS)

After Mike Trout led team United States to the World Baseball Classic to face Shohei Ohtani and Japan, jokes were flying about what it would be like if both stars were on the same team. Well, we know what that would be like: postseason-less baseball. Despite having two of the game's top players since 2018, the Los Angeles Angels have been unable to end their playoff drought (or even finish at .500). Trout has played in just three playoff games during his career, all of which came when Los Angeles was swept by the Kansas City Royals in the 2014 ALDS. The Angels have not won a playoff game since 2009.

Detroit Tigers - 8 seasons

Last playoff game: October 5, 2014 (Baltimore Orioles 2, Detroit Tigers 1 - Game 3, Division Series)

When the Detroit Tigers last took part in the postseason, the aces of their pitching staff were Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Imagine having those two in the same rotation?? Well, we'll actually see that again this season with the New York Mets. But the two Cy Young winners were much younger while they were with Detroit, and still the Tigers lost each of their starts in the 2014 ALDS en route to being swept by the Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers haven't been back to the playoffs since. 

Which NBA team has the longest playoff drought?

Charlotte Hornets - 6 seasons

Last playoff game: May 1, 2016 (Miami Heat 106, Charlotte Hornets 73 - Game 7, First Round)

No wonder Michael Jordan is looking to sell the team. Since Jordan became a minority investor in 2006 and then majority owner in 2010, the Hornets have failed to make it out of the first round in three playoff appearances. Their last cameo was in 2015-2016 and they have long been eliminated from this year's postseason, bringing their streak to seven seasons. With the Kings having clinched, the Hornets now are the unfortunate owners of the NBA's longest active postseason drought. At least Jordan stands to make over $1 billion in profit on a potential sale of the team. 

Contact Us