What’s in a Name

No team has gone under more scrutiny for changing its name than Washington’s basketball franchise.

Switching from the Bullets to the Wizards in 1995, in the midst of rising crime and homicide rates in the nation’s capital, owner Abe Pollin felt uncomfortable with the violence associated with his team’s name.

The problem with becoming the Wizards is the name is completely unimaginative, has nothing to do with basketball, or the city of Washington D.C. Since transforming into the Wizards, the team revamped its jerseys, changing its color scheme from red, white and blue to the unpopular, bland blue road jerseys and plain white home jerseys.

Many of the teams followers have been so disappointed with the teams name, one of the most popular blogs dedicated to the team is simply called BulletsForever.

The Wizards tried to recreate its image by unveiling a new alternate jersey.

To try and reconstruct the Wizard image, the team even tried unveiling a completely overhauled alternate jersey. The only problem is no one would ever purchase one to wear out in public.

Last season Ted Leonsis took over as the primary owner of the franchise following the death of Pollin last November. Having successfully turned around the Washington Capitals, Leonsis faced the toughest task any team owner could face.

Gilbert Arenas, the highest paid player in franchise history, was suspended for 50 games following a gun incident on the teams facility.

Without its star player, the Wizards playoff hopes quickly disappeared, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were traded away to start the rebuilding of the roster.

Washington is hoping the overhauled roster and new ownership are the first steps towards winning a title, something the franchise hasn’t done since 1978.

Following the gun incident, it appeared there was no chance of the Bullets ever becoming the team name again. Since Leonsis took over, he said he was shocked about the number of fans contacting him about a name change for the team.

This season, there has been a little progress reverting back to the Bullets era. In an effort to make the Wizards more of Washington’s team, the franchise announced it will go back to a red, white and blue color scheme next season.

The new look has even generated some rumors about the team switching back it’s team name.

Leonsis put out a list entitled 101 Signs of Visible Change on his personal blog, point number 31 proved to be the most interesting.

Fans seem to be interested in returning back to the Bullets, but a recent editorial from the Washington Post offers an opposing view.

According to Leonsis, it’s a non-story. The team may still remain Wizards, go back to the Bullets or even a completely new name.

Either way, the franchise is happy to be back in the news again, especially for a positive reason.


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About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.
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