Posts Tagged ‘Ted Leonsis’

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

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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 Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin need more veterans to compete for Stanley Cup

May 6, 2011

For the fourth time in four years, the Washington Capitals did not live up to their seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Alexander Ovechkin had 10 points in nine games, but he has been hampered by an injury all year.  The Caps’ best players are all forwards: Ovie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin.  But one of the problems with the Caps is that they are too young.  They need players who know how to win.  A look at the Stanley Cup champions from each of the past 10 seasons shows that all of those teams have multiple players over 30 who are either stars or major contributors.

The Caps have Mike Knuble, 38, and Jason Arnott, 36, but both have been banged up and Arnott only arrived in late February at the trade deadline.  It’s time for the Caps to make some changes and trade Semin or defenseman Mike Green for some veterans.  Owner Ted Leonsis’ extreme youth movement has led to good regular seasons, but the Caps have come up short in the postseason.  To read 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.

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


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

June 11, 2010

Check out this awesome Bullets jersey.

New Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said Thursday he will not change the name of the Wizards, but said a change in colors back to the traditional red, white, and blue is likely at some point. Leonsis also asked the fans to welcome back former all-star guard Gilbert Arenas.

Leonsis formally took over ownership of the Wizards Wednesday. Recent speculation has centered on whether the Wizards will change their team colors and even their name after the upcoming season, with many fans clamoring to a return to the Bullets, the team’s name from 1963 to 1997.

Interest in the Wizards is high again after they won the rights to the number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery last month. What was the good luck charm? Irene Pollin wore her late husband Abe’s 1978 Washington Bullets NBA championship ring.

For the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Excerpt:

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

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

May 22, 2010

New Wizards owner Ted Leonsis hinted today in an article in the Washington Post that he would consider a uniform change for the Washington Wizards and was noncommittal about a possible name change.  Changing back to the red, white and blue uniforms is a no-brainer.  When Leonsis’ Caps went back to red white and blue (mostly red) uniforms, it coincided with the Caps’ resurgence in the standings and most importantly among fans.  The Nationals also play in red, white and blue uniforms.

Going back to the Bullets name would restore the franchise’s great tradition.  The Bullets won the NBA title in 1978 and appeared in the finals four times during the 1970s.  They had two of the greatest players of all-time in Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld.

When the late Abe Pollin changed the name in 1997 to Wizards, he did it because he said it wasn’t an appropriate name for a city that had suffered so much gun violence.  However, no one ever thought of the Bullets in that way.  Initially the meaning was “faster than a speeding Bullet.”

Rather than a ceremonial change, which did nothing to decrease gun violence in the city, the Wizards should go back to the Bullets, and ensure that a majority of the charity and community service work they do goes toward alleviating the problems that result in gun violence.  They could start by establishing an Abe Pollin community center where teens could play basketball.  In fact, build a few of them in some of the parts of the city that need them most.

In an article on Examiner.com, former Bullet Kevin Grevey, a starter on that Bullets championship team, said he would love the team to go back to the Bullets name.  Excerpts from the article are below:

“The name Bullets, once synonymous with winning, had become known for mediocrity, and finally futility in the previous decade. Merchandise sales were also near the bottom of the league. The team had gone away from its stars and stripes uniform to a plainer version in recent seasons.

Grevey, other ex-Bullets, and legions of fans disagreed vehemently with the name change.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can relate to in the name Wizards in Washington. Could you imagine them changing the name of the Redskins? It would be horrible,” Grevey said.

“Never once did I wear a Bullets uniform and feel embarrassed about it being used in a way other than players running down the floor speeding like a bullet. I think it was a stretch.

“But it was also a smart business decision, making the move to the arena almost like an expansion team. New coach, new players, new colors, new name, new city…so it was a windfall financially to change the name.”

The area around 7th and F Streets NW at the Verizon Center has been revitalized in the last decade. An area that once had abandoned buildings now is full with nightclubs, restaurants, and retailers, and Pollin financed the arena with $200 million of his own money. Pollin also gave back to the community through numerous charities.

Pollin died at the age of 85 in November 2009. Capitals owner and Wizards minority owner Ted Leonsis recently signed an agreement with the Pollin estate to purchase the remaining percentage of the team, and Leonsis should get control of the Wizards before the end of the NBA playoffs, and possibly as early as the end of May.

Whereas the Bullets name went from excellence in the ‘70s to mediocrity in the ‘80s and to futility in the ‘90s, the Wizards have now failed to make the playoffs in nine of their 13 seasons. The Big Three of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, and Caron Butler helped the team to four straight playoff berths, but only made it past the first round once.

The Wizards name, logo, and colors never caught on in a big way, and Wizards merchandise does not rank among the top half of NBA teams. Meanwhile, retro versions of old Bullets uniforms have become huge sellers.

Would Grevey like the Wizards to someday change their name back to the Bullets?

“Of course I would. Everybody who played for the Bullets was disappointed to see the Bullets change the name. It was Abe Pollin’s team and he deserved to do whatever he wanted to, and he did it for an admirable reason because of the political correctness. I just wish they were called the Bullets.”

Leonsis recently took down the much criticized Washington Mystics “Attendance Champions” banners from the Verizon Center and has a well-deserved reputation for listening to fans. The Caps have become one of the most fan-friendly franchises in the NHL, and Leonsis answers all email from fans. Is it possible that Leonsis might change the name back to the Bullets someday?

“I hope he does,” said Grevey. “I think Ted will hear from the fans and I think a lot of fans would love to get back to the great history that we have.”

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of the article about Kevin Grevey and the 1978 NBA champion Washington Bullets.

Lady Luck! Washington Wizards get top pick in NBA Draft Lottery, chance for John Wall of Kentucky

May 19, 2010

Lady Luck visited the Washington Wizards Tuesday night. She was Irene Pollin, the widow of former Wizards owner Abe Pollin.

After years of frustration in the NBA draft lottery, the Washington Wizards struck gold and won the top pick.

Irene Pollin wore Abe Pollin’s 1978 Washington Bullets NBA championship ring for good luck to the lottery selection show in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Click here to read the rest of my article on examiner.com.