Washington Wizards Team History
In 1995, owner Abe Pollin announced he was changing the team’s name because Bullets had acquired violent overtones that had made him increasingly uncomfortable over the years, particularly given the high homicide and crime rate in the early 1990s in Washington, D.C. The final straw was the assassination of his longtime friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. A contest was held to choose a new name and the choices were narrowed to the Dragons, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs, or Wizards. On May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Washington Wizards. The change generated some controversy because Washington is a predominantly African-American city and Wizard is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan. A new logo was unveiled and the team colors were changed from the traditional red, white and blue to blue, black and bronze, the same colors as the Washington Capitals hockey team, also owned by Pollin. That same year the Wizards moved to the then MCI Center, now called Verizon Center. The Verizon Center is home to the Capitals, the Washington Mystics of the Women’s National Basketball Association and the Georgetown Hoyas men’s college basketball team.
The Verizon Center, located in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Chinatown, originally opened on December 2, 1997 as the MCI Center, named after its sponsor, MCI Inc. Nearly a decade later, in January 2006, Verizon Communications purchased MCI Inc., and the arena’s name was changed accordingly. The following year, in 2007, the “first true indoor high-definition LED scoreboard” was installed at the Verizon Center. On December 2, 2007, the Verizon Center celebrated the ten year anniversary of its opening. In Dec., 2013 all electronic communications to and from the scoreboard and advertising fasciae were updated by ColosseoEAS.
Leonsis became the majority owner of the Washington Wizards in June 2010, inheriting a team that had 26 wins and 56 losses during the previous season. Leonsis has taken a fan-centric approach to running the franchise, by listening and responding to the concerns of Wizards supporters through his email and personal website. On May 10, 2011, the Wizards unveiled a new color scheme, uniforms and logo. The team reverted to its traditional red, white and blue colors. The uniforms are based very closely on those worn from 1974 to 1987, during the team’s glory years. During Leonsis’ tenure as owner, the Wizards have compiled a promising young nucleus of players, including John Wall (No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft), Bradley Beal (No. 3 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft) and Otto Porter Jr. (No. 3 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft). They have also acquired veterans like Nenê and Marcin Gortat via trade.
On April 7, 2010, Wall announced that he would forgo his final three seasons of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2010 NBA draft, where he was expected to be the first overall selection for the Washington Wizards. On May 3, Wall signed with agent Dan Fegan.
On June 23, 2010, Reebok revealed Wall as its latest signing, casting him as the face of its latest basketball shoe, the ZigTech Slash. On June 24, 2010, Wall was drafted as the first overall pick by the Washington Wizards in the 2010 NBA draft. On June 25, 2010, Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, D.C. declared June 25 as John Wall Day on a plaque handed to John Wall during his Washington Wizards’ presser.
The Washington Wizards are an American professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C. The Wizards compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member club of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team plays its home games at the Verizon Center, in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Chicago – Baltimore – Washington D.C.
1961 – Present National Basketball Association
Wizards – In the early 1990s, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin was becoming frustrated with the association of his team’s nickname and gun violence. After Pollin’s friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated, Pollin decided to take action and announced his plans to rename the team. A name-the-team contest was held and fans voted on a list of finalists that included Wizards, Dragons, Express, Stallions, and Sea Dogs. On May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Washington Wizards.
1997 – Present Washington Wizards
1974 – 1997 Washington Bullets
1973 – 1974 Capital Bullets
1963 – 1973 Baltimore Bullets
1962 – 1963 Chicago Zephyrs
1961 – 1962 Chicago Packers
NBA Championships 0
2007 – Present Verizon Center
1997 – 2006 MCI Center
1994 – 1997 US Airways Arena
1973 – 1993 Capital Centre
1963 – 1973 Baltimore Civic Center
1962 – 1963 Chicago Coliseum
1961 – 1962 International Amphitheatre
2010 – Present Ted Leonsis
2009 – 2010 Estate of Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis
1999 – 2009 Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis
1964 – 1999 Abe Pollin
1961 – 1964 David Trager
10 Earl “The Pearl” Monroe
11 Elvin Hayes
25 Gus Johnson
41 Wes Unseld
1997 – Present G Wiz
Unknown G Man
*Blue is this team’s history