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