Where’s one place you can find D.C. politicians agreeing on a strategy? At a Washington Wizards game!
Young, old, Democrat, Republican -- basketball fans of all different backgrounds have rallied behind this team through good and bad. Although the franchise was originally based in Chicago and then Baltimore, it now calls the capital city home. Fans don’t have to travel far from the famous National Mall to get to the massive Verizon Center in D.C.’s Chinatown. Formerly known as the MCI Center, this arena was lovingly nicknamed the “Phone Booth” because of its connection with those well-known telecommunications companies.
Veteran supporters are sure to remember that the team was known as the “Bullets” for almost 35 years. However, in 1995, owner Abe Pollin decided to hold a renaming contest in order to shake off any association with the bane of most big cities: gun violence. This transition was completed in 1997 with a redesigned logo and uniform -- plus a home victory at the brand-new MCI center as icing on the cake.
Possibly the most monumental season for the squad was 1977-78. Despite the team’s fluctuating performances and injured players, they managed to progress to the playoffs. Not only did they triumph in critical game 6, but their win occurred amid a series of bizarre circumstances. San Antonio Spurs guard Mike Gale had to borrow an inside-out Bullets uniform after losing his own while traveling, and on top of that, the power temporarily went out. At the final NBA championship game, the team maintained focus even after Kevin Grevey sprained his wrist and free agent Bob Dandridge had to be substituted. Dandridge stunned the crowd with 19 points, Wes Unseld scored 15 points, and by the end, they emerged as champions with a 105-99 victory.
The 1969 NBA MVP Wes Unseld continued to show such incredible talent during his career that he was eventually inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. Other Hall of Famers who played for Washington include Dave Bing, Elvin Hayes, Bernard King, Moses Malone, Mitch Richmond, Ralph Sampson, and Michael Jordan. Wiz fans will always be able to brag about how Jordan ended his three-year retirement to finish his career in Washington, but Jordan’s certainly not the only accomplished athlete to play for the team. An old favorite, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe was a deft ball handler who made the reverse spin on the dribble a trademark move. And in the 1985-86 season, Washington threw quite a “block” party with 7’7” Manute Bol, who broke records as an outstanding shot blocker.
After many years of struggling, the Wizards won the 2010 NBA draft lottery and selected promising point guard John Wall. With his unparalleled athletic abilities and explosive speed, Wall would usher in a new golden era for Washington. In fact, during an average game, he’s in possession of the ball for a total of 7.8 minutes and makes about 70 passes!
In true American form, Wiz fans are proud, patriotic, competitive and optimistic -- but what else would you expect from the USA’s capital city?