Archive for the ‘Washington Wizards’ Category

ESPN’s feature of NBA players at Great Wall of China forgot Washington Bullets’ trip in 1979

October 17, 2013

I had to mention that ESPN’s piece on NBA players visiting the Great Wall of China failed to mention that the Washington Bullets were the first team to do so back in 1979, which was very significant at the time. If any other NBA team had been there, ESPN would have mentioned it. It’s a shame that they have forgotten the Washington Bullets.

Never been busier in my life but I felt I had to post this.

ESPN the Magazine trashes Washington D.C. as a sports town

October 3, 2012

ESPN The Magazine’s Howard Bryant just trashed Washington, D.C. as a sports town. It’s too much to go into, but the article is pretty weak. If you want to read an article about D.C. as a sports town by a Washingtonian, see http://bleacherreport.com/articles/914880-washington-dc-not-just-a-redskins-town-but-a-great-sports-city.

Also see an article about D.C.’s top stars: Robert Griffin III, Alex Ovechkin, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and John Wall:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1349641-dcs-top-stars-rg3-alex-ovechkin-stephen-strasburg-bryce-harper-john-wa

Mitch Kupchak was a very good NBA player for the Washington Bullets and L.A. Lakers

March 4, 2012
Image

Former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak at a charity event in Gaithersburg, Maryland in 1980. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

I recently wrote an article on Examiner.com about how professional journalists continue to pronounce Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak’s name wrong. (It’s Kup-CHAK, not Kup-CHEK). That’s pretty pathetic.  Anyway, Kupchak has 10 NBA championship rings – seven with the Lakers as an executive, two as a player, and one as a player for the Washington Bullets in 1978. Kupchak was an All-America at North Carolina, ACC Player of the Year, started on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal, and played a key role as a member of the ’78 Bullets and ’85 Lakers championship teams. Jerry West put together most of the Lakers’ title teams, but Kupchak deserves credit for at least the two most recent ones.  Anyway, if Kupchak led the Knicks to a title rather than the Bullets, everyone would pronounce his name right.

It’s too bad how we always forget the past. Now I’m getting a little off topic, but Charles Barkley always mentions himself, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, and Dennis Rodman as the best power forwards ever, and he never mentions Elvin Hayes, as if basketball wasn’t played before Barkley’s era.

Never forget the Washington Bullets, the 1978 NBA champions.

Click here to read my article on Mitch Kupchak on Examiner.com.

Irene Pollin says she would be ok with a change from Washington Wizards to Bullets

December 26, 2011

There have been rumblings the last few years for the Washington Wizards to change their name back to the Bullets. Owner Ted Leonsis has already changed the uniforms back to the familiar red, white, and blue the Bullets wore. However, Ted has consistently said he won’t contemplate a name change back to the Bullets. It was just two years ago that former owner Abe Pollin died, and Pollin changed the name to the Wizards in 1997 to be more politically correct.

But Pollin’s widow, Irene Pollin, recently told the Washington Post that she wouldn’t oppose a name change back to Bullets if that’s what the fans want. That opens the door a crack for a possible name change, although it wouldn’t be prudent to go overboard on this for fear of jinxing the possibility.

So this morning I revised and republished parts of an interview I did in 2010 with former Bullet Kevin Grevey, a starter on the 1978 NBA championship team. You can read the article here on Bleacher Report.Image

Washington Post Bog’s Dan Steinberg: Will Wizards change name to Washington Monuments?

May 12, 2011

Washington Bullets Wes Unseld retro jersey. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

After a local sports blogger sent a tweet out asking if the Washington Wizards were thinking of changing their name to the Washington Monuments, the Post’s Dan Steinberg raised the topic on his Sports Bog.  Steinberg noted that the Washington Monument is featured in the Wizards’ new red, white, and blue uniforms and one of the logos unveiled Tuesday, and the name of the group that owns the Wizards, Caps, and Mystics is called Monumental Sports and Enterainment.

Steinberg is an often entertaining and sometimes informative writer. He regularly refers back to the original sources from which he gets his information. He’s an expert at scouring the internet and old sports archives to find out what was written years ago. That’s why I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t credit me for originally mentioning the possible Washington Monuments name in an article I wrote for Examiner.com June 11, 2010, even after I emailed him about it yesterday. Maybe the Post doesn’t like to update online stories after they have originally been published.  Here’s an excerpt from that article I wrote 11 months ago.

“In an email Thursday to fans of Leonsis’ other major sports franchise, the Capitals, he wrote, “By now you have probably heard the news that my partners and I have completed our purchase of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center and created a new company – Monumental Sports & Entertainment – that owns those entities as well as the Capitals and the Mystics.”

The Washington Monuments?

Could the Wizards change their name to the “Washington Monuments” in the future? Though Leonsis denied the possibility of any name change, the name of the new company could be a clue to a future franchise name. “Monumental Sports” is an awkward name, but “Washington Monuments” does have a ring to it. If Leonsis had mentioned a name change as a possibility, speculation by the media and fans could have taken away from the product on the court, so it was smart for Leonsis to deny the possibility of a potential future name change. Leonsis has said he doesn’t want to disrespect the wishes of Pollin, who stated that he changed the name from Bullets to Wizards because of the city’s gun violence, so a name change back to the Bullets would be a long shot.

The Washington Monuments goes with the Capitals theme, as the Washington Monument stands at the other end of the national mall from the Capitol. The name also identifies the team with something that is uniquely Washington, and the Washington Monument, like a basketball player, is very tall. There would also be no problem with franchises in other sports and leagues for rights to the name.

There’s no natural short nickname for Monuments like there is for the other local franchises – Skins, Caps, Nats, and United – but they could be called the “M’s” for short, as Seattle calls its Mariners. Or could the “Monsters” be a shortened version? The team could market the Monuments and the Capitals together, on the same shirt for example, with a scene of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  The Verizon Center is also in fairly close proximity to the national mall.”

Anyway, for the record, while the Monuments name makes some sense, I don’t think it would be a good idea to rename the team “Monuments,” which would be the franchise’s third name in 15-20 years.  I still hold out hope, as most old Bullets fans do, that Ted Leonsis will rename the team the Bullets in a couple of years, because it never should have been changed in the first place. It’s probably a longshot, but longtime Bullets fans can only hope that Leonsis will at least consider the option.

As for Steinberg, he said in a video chat that he suggests the name “Justice like everybody wants.”  Wait, what?  Steinberg and his Post colleague Mike (un) Wise suggest “Justice,” but there’s no way that “everybody wants” that.  That would be a huge mistake.  The vast majority of fans want the team to return to its Bullets name.  Steinberg and Wise don’t care about the team’s great history, which includes an NBA championship in 1978, because they weren’t here then, and you have to do more than look up old articles to understand D.C. sports.

To read my D.C. sports articles on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards unveil red, white and blue uniforms, invoking memories of Bullets history

May 12, 2011

The Washington Wizards unveiled their new red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday. The uniforms are similar to those of the old Washington Bullets.

“You’ve gotta be a fan of old D.C. to know what the Bullets mean to me.”

  Bullets Feverby Nils Lofgren, 1978.

Don’t look now, but something good just happened to a Washington, D.C. sports team.  The Washington Wizards unveiled their new, back to the future, red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday at the Verizon Center.  While owner Ted Leonsis isn’t changing the name of the franchise back to the Bullets, the overwhelming majority of the fan base is happy with the retro look, if internet comments are any indication.

Leonsis promised the color scheme change last year and delivered, with a home version reminiscent of old Bullets uniforms, and a road uniform that is mostly red, with “Washington” on the front and the name “Wizards” conspicuously absent.

Wizards guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford modeled the home and away versions of the uniforms, while former Bullets greats Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge stood on stage and helped unveil the new uniforms.

In addition to the Big E and Bobby D, more than 20 former Bullets were in attendance, including Phil Chenier, Kevin Grevey, Clem Haskins, Tom Henderson, Rick Mahorn, Gheorghe Muresan, Kevin Porter, Mike Riordan, Jeff Ruland, and Larry Wright. Former Bullets general manager Bob Ferry also attended the ceremony.

Leonsis has made a commitment to honor the team’s great history, as evidenced by the uniform change and the establishment of the Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association.  Leonsis changed the uniforms just one year after he took over the team, and the connection to the franchise’s old players is long overdue.  The Bullets’ historic past includes an NBA championship in 1978, three other trips to the finals in the 1970s, and 18 playoff appearances in 20 seasons from 1969 to 1988.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards’ 0-24 road start is an indictment of Ted Leonsis, Flip Saunders, John Wall

February 1, 2011

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl, and the Washington Wizards are still winless on the road.  The Wizards lost their 24th straight road game, Monday, 102-92 in Dallas.

There is no shame in losing to the Mavericks (32-15) in Dallas.  But the Wizards should not be 0-24 away from Chinatown.

How can the Wizards be so much better at home (13-10) than on the road?  The disparity in records doesn’t make sense because the Verizon Center crowd isn’t known for being particularly enthusiastic, and Washington ranks just 20th in the NBA in attendance.

It’s harder for NBA teams to win on the road than teams in other sports because basketball players need fresh legs and play more minutes than other athletes, but long road trips don’t explain the Wizards going winless on the road.  The Wizards have a young, athletic lineup so endurance shouldn’t be a problem.

Are the Wizards partying too much on the road?  Do they have a careless attitude?  Is it immaturity? Coaching?  Low expectations?  All of the above?

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

2010 DC sports year in review: great regular season for Caps, not much else to cheer about

January 7, 2011

Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 in his major league debut in 2010. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

2010 was another typical year for D.C. area sports teams. That is to say, there wasn’t a whole lot to cheer about, other than a great regular season by the Capitals and some above-average seasons by local college teams.

2011 may end up being brighter for the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, D.C. United, Maryland and Georgetown, but first Examiner.com takes a look back at the year in D.C. sports that was 2010.

Redskins

It was a disappointing debut for coach Mike Shanahan, whose Redskins finished 6-10, losing seven of their last nine games.  Shanahan traded a second and a fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for Donovan McNabb, who had his worst season since his rookie year.

Capitals

The Caps won the President’s Trophy for the most points in the NHL during the regular season, but then crashed and burned in the playoffs, losing to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in seven games.

Nationals

The Nats finished with a losing record (69-93) for the fifth time in their six-season existence.  Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint, striking out 14 in his major league debut en route to a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 2.91 with 92 strikeouts in 68 innings.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

John Wall, Yi Jianlian lead Wizards to 98-91 win over Rockets, Yao Ming leaves with injury

November 11, 2010

Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Chinese basketball stars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian faced off Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., but it was rookie John Wall who stole the show with a triple-double as the Wizards (2-4) defeated the Houston Rockets 98-91.

The 7-6 Yao, who helped make basketball the most popular sport in China, had to leave the game after six minutes because of a strained tendon in his left foot.  Meanwhile, his protégé, the 7-foot Yi, had his best game in a Wizards uniform, scoring 13 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and blocking four shots in front of 16,665 on Asian American night at Verizon Center in a game that more than 400,000 people in China were expected to watch early in the morning.

Wall and Yi hooked up for one of the plays of the game in the third quarter, when Wall passed to Yi for one of his 13 assists. Yi drove past Luis Scola of the Rockets (1-6) on the baseline and threw down a dunk to give Washington a 68-63 lead late in the third quarter.

Yi grabs one of his seven rebounds against Houston Wednesday. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Wall, the number one pick in the 2010 NBA draft, also had 19 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and only one turnover.

Wall became the sixth player in the history of the NBA to have a triple-double in the first six games of his career. One of those players was Magic Johnson, who was in attendance, sitting to the left of the Wizards’ bench next to owner Ted Leonsis.

For the rest of the article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Washington Wizards to change colors back to red, white, and blue for 2011-2012 season

September 23, 2010

 

Kevin Grevey goes up for a shot in the Washington Bullets' old red, white and blue uniforms, circa 1980.

 

Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld announced that the Wizards will change their colors back to red, white and blue for the 2011-2012 season, a move that has been rumored for months.

This comes as great news for longtime Washington Bullets fans, who never liked the change of the name to Wizards or the change of the colors to blue and bronze.

Unfortunately, the Wizards will probably never go back to the name Bullets, but at least owner Ted Leonsis will change the colors back to red, white, and blue, fitting for a team in the nation’s capital.  The Wizards, Caps, and Nats will all wear patriotic colors.

(The Redskins can’t change from burgundy and gold – they have such a great tradition with those colors, but wasn’t it great to see the Skins wearing gold pants?  The team is paying homage to its great past.)

Here’s hoping that the Wizards’ new unis won’t be 99% red like the Caps’ and Nats’ uniforms.  Keep some blue.  Also, add back the stars on the shorts.  The photo to the left shows former Bullet Kevin Grevey in the Bullets’ old road uniforms.  The photo below shows a retro Wes Unseld home uniform.  Both were among the best in the history of the NBA.

It’s a great move by Leonsis, but it’s also a no-brainer.  Now maybe Leonsis will improve the Wizards’ website and add more history about the old Bullets.  It’s a shame that that 1978 championship team has been virtually forgotten.

(It doesn’t help that the deans of DC sports media, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, both arrived in D.C. a couple of years after the Bullets’ title, so they always pretend it never happened.  They’ll talk a ton about the Knicks and the Bulls of the 1970s, though.)

 

This retro Wes Unseld jersey has become one of the NBA's biggest sellers. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

 

In emails over the last several months, Leonsis has vowed to improve the franchise’s recognition of its great history, but quite frankly, Leonsis hasn’t kept his word.

I complained multiple times that it was impossible — not hard, but impossible — to get an Elvin Hayes Bullets jersey from the Wizards or anywhere on the internet.  (Ok, you can get one from southeast Asia on ebay, but it doesn’t look right).  Keep in mind that the Big E was the 23rd-best player in the history of the NBA according to Slam Magazine, ahead of players such as Bob Cousy, David Robinson, Willis Reed, Kevin Garnett, Wes Unseld, Walt Frazier, and Patrick Ewing.

Leonsis assured me that someone would get back to me — no one ever did.  I left messages with Wizards’ personnel and no one called back, and no one really knew what I was talking about.

Being a great owner takes more than designing a good website and not being Daniel Snyder.  It takes keeping your word.

Also see the following Examiner articles and blog posts:

Leonsis won’t change name of Wizards to Bullets but may change colors back to red, white and blue

Part 1: Former Washington Bullet Kevin Grevey on the ’78 NBA title season, Kentucky, and the Wizards

Part 2: Former Washington Bullet Kevin Grevey on the ’78 NBA title season, Kentucky, and the Wizards

32 years ago: Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Washington Bullets win NBA championship

Should the Washington Wizards change their name back to the Bullets?

Former Washington Bullet Mitch Kupchak: 8 NBA championship rings

Mitch Kupchak and the 1978 Washington Bullets: NBA Champions



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